Is it possible to feel pain in any internal organs? Do any …

  • Is it possible to feel pain in any internal organs? Do any internal organs have nerve endings?

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    The body experiences three kinds of pain.

    1. Only a few of humans’ internal organs have nociceptors (pain receptors) that transmit somatic pain, like that perceived when the skin is burned or punctured, or when muscle, joint and bone tissues are injured. The brain immediately identifies the location and magnitude of this pain.

    2. Visceral (involving internal organs enclosed in a cavity¹) pain is perceived by pain receptors sensitive to stretching, oxygen deprivation or inflammation.

    Visceral pain may be diffuse and hard to locate, and is usually described as deep, dull, sickening or squeezing. Visceral pain is often referred to (perceived in) distant parts of the body and often on/near the body surface.

    Visceral pain also may be acutely severe, and resulting from problems with organs including:

    • stomach
    • kidney ducts

    • gall bladder, especially caused by gallstones

    • urinary bladder, especially caused by ureteral stones

    • Intestine
    • heart, especially caused by oxygen deprivation
    • female pelvic organs, particularly the uterus

    Viscera that are equipped with nociceptors to signal harmful events are mostly the hollow viscera (i.e., the gut, bladder, uterus).

    The brain, lungs, liver and kidneys are “sensitive” to pain, but pain in these regions tends to be referred to nearby areas, such as neck pain in meningitis, chest pain in pneumonia, abdominal tenderness with hepatic pathology, and flank pain with kidney stones.

    3. Neuropathic pain is caused by injury or malfunction of the spinal cord and/or nerves.

    ¹ Cavities such as thoracic (chest), pelvic or abdominal.

    Just a few we as docs think of when we hear people having pain:

    -pain from
    Ischemia that is a lack of oxygen in muscles e.g. heart muscle, limbs, at first only on exertion, later on also during rest; or worse in the intestines, often after eating, later on continously, very serious condition

    -pain from the rubbing together of the pleura (the lining of the chest wall and lungs) called
    Pleurisy, or Pericardium (the lining around the heart) we call Pericarditis.

    Renal colic due to urinary tract stones

    Biliary colic due to gallstones

    -pain from menstruation

    -instestinal pain when the bowels are stretched e.g. when obstructed.

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    Is it possible to feel pain in any internal organs? Do any internal organs have nerve endings?

    As far as I’m aware, every single internal organ has a way to detect injury to itself via pain nerves/receptors. Except the brain, interestingly.


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    You have never had severe gas or menstrual cramps.

    My dog screamed when he died of a heart attack. Sure seemed like he was feeling pain in an internal organ.


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    There are parts of the body that do not have pain receptors, or only feel certain kinds of of sensations as painful. As far as I know they are internal. For example I believe the brain itself does not have pain receptors, but its linings do, so cutting brain tissue doesn’t hurt (Caveat… depends on the function of the area of the brain…motor area, sensory area etc).

    There are limited situations where intestines themselves send pain signals… I think most commonly when the bowel is stretched… not necessarily when it is cut. However like the brain, tissues surrounding the bowels, the lining or the peritoneal cavity is pain sensitive.

    The lungs are largely the same… most lung tissue is not sensitive to pain, parts of the larger bronchi are, and possibly some blood vessels… but the lining of the lungs… the pleura can get really painful.

    The internal organs often when they do “feel” pain it is often not well localised, and can even be interpreted by our body as coming from a different location. This phenomenon is known as referred pain. There are common areas where pain for different organs or structures tend to be reffered, but there can be a lot of individual variation which can make diagnosing a problem a bit tricky.

    A common example of referred pain is that pain generated in the diaphragm and structures close to it is usually felt as shoulder tip pain. The nerve that carries pain signals from the shoulder tip area, usually joins up with sensory nerves around the diaphragm internally.

    During a heart attack reffered pain is commonly felt radiating up the neck from the left shoulder and down the left arm… but not in everyone, some people get a sensation like severe indigestion, pain in the back, chest, or pain in both or neither arms, even no pain at all. This in part reflects individual variation in how structures are innervated.

    At a more general level you can get an idea of how sensitive a body part is, by looking at the amount of the cerebral cortex dedicated to interpreting sensation (not all sensation is pain, so it is not straight forward).

    Pain is a perception, and is not uniformly experienced. Pain is by nature a subjective and somewhat individual experience, individual anatomy, chemistry, and environmental conditions (like stress, hormones, adrenaline, lack of sleep etc), can also affect the perception of pain, how effective medication to treat pain is. Two people with the same trauma, or stimulus, may experience it entirely differently. The same person may even experience the same stimulus very differently at different times or under different circumstances.

    This is a big question because it depends on which organ where the sharp pain is happening. This is also a big question because sharp pains can range from relatively normal body process to a nutrient deficiency which can be fixed to a medical emergency. I would categorize this problem into 4 classes:

    1) Visceral pain: which means an organ or a blood vessel is being stretched, and causes a sharp pain, such as in the case of intestinal gas or constipation. Gallstones causing back pain or abdominal pain is also an example of visceral pain, and more serious than gas, obviously. If there is a tumor or a fibroid in an organ this can also cause visceral pain, depending on where it is located.

    2) Ischemia: Lack of blood flow to an area, called ischemia, can also cause sharp pains, such as a sharp heart pain in the case of angina or stabbing pains in the ends of the fingers in the case of Raynaud’s. If one has blood clots in the case of intermittent claudication, arteriosclerosis or heart disease then one might expect to get ischemic pains, but these are a dangerous sign that circulation is not working properly and could lead to a heart attack. A blood clot could also happen in the brain, which might have dire consequences and cause a stroke.

    3) Spasms and cramps: Pain from lactic acid build up, dehydration and electrolyte deficiencies can cause sharp pains. This can be the case in menstrual pains, headache, muscle cramps, eye twitching and leg cramps at night. Sometimes this can be solved by drinking more water and increasing sources of magnesium, calcium and potassium, the electrolytes needed to relax the muscles around the organs and muscles.

    4) Inflammation: Inflammation is a general pain category that can be experienced as sharp or dull pain – it can vary from a very sore throat to joints to lungs to skin, where the body has an infection or an injury. Part of the reason for pain of inflammation goes back to visceral because the organ is being stretched as a result of fluid build up – in the case of arthritis, or edema, or swelling anywhere. There are additional causes of inflammatory pain, such as redness on the area can cause a tender pain or raw pain. In the case of heartburn, acid may splash on the stomach or esophagus lining which would cause local redness and a lot of immediate pain. But it could also be a wheal and flare reaction (visceral pain) from an allergy, or as mentioned an infection that causes pain of inflammation.

    There might be other causes of sharp pains, but most would fit into these categories.

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    The easiest internal organ for most people to feel with a hand external to the body is the urinary bladder, especially when it is full. This is located in the lower portion of the abdomen.

    You mentioned feeling the heart with your hand, but you have to remember that your heart actually sits behind the sternum and left ribcage. It really isn’t an organ that one can feel through the chest wall. You can listen to it at several points, however. You might be able to feel the apex (apical pulse point), or lowest point of the heart, just under the lowest of the left anterior ribs, centered under the left clavicle. If the heart is markedly enlarged from disease, the apex may actually be located in the upper abdomen and deviated to the left.

    The liver’s lower edge can be felt, in most people, just under the lowest of the right anterior ribs. The best way to feel it is to lay flat with knees bent, which helps relax the abdominal wall muscles. Starting in the right upper abdomen, gently but firmly press inward and upward while exhaling. In normal people, the liver’s edge generally will be felt just below the lower right ribs, and sometimes just under those ribs.

    The spleen and kidneys can be felt in thin to normal weight individuals. It generally takes some training and skill—with a fair amount of practice—to be able to palpate these organs well. Because an enlarged or injured spleen can actually rupture from over-enthusiastic palpation, I don’t recommend that those outside of the medical or nursing professions attempt to feel these organs. It’s also fairly uncomfortable for the patient due to the depth of palpation needed to feel them well.

    In females who are thin to normal weight, you can sometimes feel the fundus, or upper edge, of the uterus. It is a small, firm structure found in the lowermost abdomen/upper pelvis, just above the mons pubis. Obviously, you’d need the woman’s express permission before you start feeling around this area.

    Gynecologists can feel a woman’s uterus, cervix and ovaries by placing two fingers into her vagina while using the external hand and fingers to help capture these organs between the fingers of both hands. This is done to assess the size of the uterus and ovaries, since enlargement of either could indicate a benign or cancerous growth, PCOS, or other condition warranting further investigation. Pain in any of these organs could indicate infection, as well. I don’t recommend that lay people perform this type of exam, either.

    One last thing you generally can feel directly or indirectly at times is the peristaltic movement of the large intestines.

    Edit 04/14/19: I inadvertently left out the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped organ located in the front part of the neck. The edges of the thyroid are generally felt most easily by standing behind the person being examined and gently wrapping the fingers around both sides of the neck. Be careful not to press so hard that the person feels like they’re gagging or choking, or that their airway is blocked!

    When you are feeling pain for more than say a day or two other than tummy griping or gas or muscle pain after exercising or a headache, it’s your body trying to “reach out to you and let you know ‘HEY! SOMETHING’s WRONG, GET ME CHECKED OUT!” Say for instance you go running 3 days in a row, everything’s fine then all of a sudden you get nausea, you may vomit, you could get a couple of bad headaches, dizziness off and on, GET TO THE ER! Something is wrong and you shouldn’t be having things like that just after a few days of jogging.

    Then say you go swimming in strange waters, lake, that you’ve never been before and all of a sudden a couple days later your pee is burning coming out! Get to the ER! You could have a bad UTI forming with bacteria that got up in there.

    Now, say you’ve been healthy and all of a sudden you get real “tired” or lethargic and you’ve lost your appetite and maybe you’re getting bad headaches, maybe go to a drug store and get your BP checked at the Pharmacy, it’s gone up a bit, or your vision is blurry. TIME TO GET TO AN ER OR AT LEAST PATIENT FIRST AND GET CHECKED. SOMETHING’S GOING ON.

    Now, if you over the last few months have started craving water, like you don’t want anything else? Are you losing weight rapidly, you could be getting Type II or even Type I Diabetes. Go to the Dr. and get checked for a CBC and HbA1c.

    If you can’t get your breath and start wheezing severely, either get to the ER or call 911. You could have been bitten, stung or eaten something you’re allergic to and need an Epi-Pen (I have this with four allergies.) You definitely need evaluation.

    Those are just a few things you can watch for.

    I take out brains frequently. From the deads.

    Mostly while opening, the ‘body’ will be ‘fixed’, resulting a hard, manageable brain which is easier to handle.

    But for research I have taken out whole unfixed brain, with spinal cord and dorsal roots. This is one of the toughest work I’ve done.

    Unfixed brain has a consistency of jam (or even milder), and it likes to take the shape of the vessel it is in (skull in normal case). So when you rongeur the skull, the brain just wants to pour out from the hole! It requires immense amount of patience and constant re-positioning of the cadaver to prevent that. Then you reach spinal cord. Imagine chocolate sauce (or peanut butter) pushed inside a strong but flexible rod, and you want untouched chocolate sauce without the rod.

    Apart from the brain, the most intriguing organs in my opinion are liver, lungs, and urinary bladder.

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    Some of your organs are, and some are not.

    For example, your lungs are encased by two membranes called the visceral pleura and the parietal pleura. Between the two plueral membranes is something called the pleural space. That space is filled with fluid which helps to lubricate the lungs and prevent the lungs from rubbing against the chest wall. The heart is also arranged in a similar manner — it’s encased in a double membrane called the visceral and fibrous pericardium that is filled with fluid between the two membranes.

    Another example is your central nervous system. Your brain and your spinal cord is bathed in cerebrospinal fluid which acts to “float” and cushion the brain in the subarachnoid space.

    Other organs like your stomach and intestines are not suspended in fluid, but rather, are held up by connective tissue like various ligaments and mesentary, a type of membranous connective tissue.

    Hi, you almost ‘captivated’ me with your question . . . Humans, mortals? The pain threshold has a little bit of ‘threshold’ tolerance . . . the one’s with gorilla ‘gestalt’? will hang on the longest . . . and there ‘are’ some who can outlast the ordinary by a ‘country mile’.

    But consider Hamashiach (Messiah) and those he spoke to, and said, “As I am, in this world so shall you be also “. . . (‘you are going to ‘walk in my shoes’)

    Hamashiach did not ‘die’, but rather gave His Life (eternal life can not die) to those who ‘trusted’ him. He gave up some fruit of his ‘eternal Spirit’ to those who ‘trusted him’, on that tree (at least to those who received it) and for those who received it, was the fruit of ‘the Tree of Life / and then proceeded to the depths of the earth, ripped open the doors of death, and returned with the saints who were patiently waiting for their Lord. (The saints who went into ‘the holy city’ of Yerusalem, and witnessed that very thing to many the next day)

    Hamashiach returned to the tomb the Roman’s were guarding, got back that body, and showed up outside the rolled back stone’ of his (ha ha) tomb Sonday morning to greet some of his followers. His followers went with Hamashiach to the ‘Upper Room’ (called Upper, because the lower part of the building was/is ‘The tomb of David, (The Goliath killer) whom Messiah was also from the ‘same root of’ . 50 days later ‘death’ dissipated like rising ‘smoke’ does, into the air. The Baptism of Ruach HaKodesh with FIRE destroyed death, and pain, for those who ‘trust’ Messiah.

    Death, Pain, ha ha ha ha ha, I laugh at your cute little tricks . . . smile, wink, and say ‘Game On’ . . . you have already lost. I do not know you. That comes down to the realm, dimension, and arena of Flesh vs Holy Spirit.

    Good night mr diablo . . . you have already lost.

    from Cubby

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