Know your body. If the brain does not have pain receptors, then why do we get headaches? - The Indian Express

We can’t stop because we are so fascinated by the human body and the way its organs work! We are always looking for newer aspects about our organs, their fascinating roles and functions. Today, we have a new question: Ever wondered why you get a migraine even though there are no pain receptors known in the cortex?

Dr Arvind Bhateja, a neurologist who has recently taken to Instagram to explain the brain’s relationship with pain and pain receptors, let us know about this fascinating aspect.

When do you generally feel pain?

Dr Bhateja said that you feel pain when your pain receptors “stimulated”, and a signal transmitted, which interprets the stimulus as painful.

The brain does not contain any pain receptors. Why (and how) are headaches caused?

Dr Bhateja says that even though the brain doesn’t have any pain receptors the head does, including the ears, nose, sinuses and the teeth. “The skull bones and the covering of the brain (also known as meninges), along with the pain-receptors are also ,” said Dr Sudhir Kumra, a neurosurgeon.

The most interesting fact about brain surgery is that it can be performed with the patient awake, since there are no pain receptors in the brain. The surgeon uses local sedation to cut through the scalp, skull bones and meninges. After that, the surgery is painless. These surgeries are only performed if the surgeon is operating a vital part of the brain that is involved in speech or memory.

Dr Pradyumna, director of Neurology at Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital in Mumbai, agreed that while the brain does not have pain receptors (nociceptors), “the sensation that a migraine is present comes from the structures around the brain”.

Let’s see how the brain perceives and responds to pain (Source: Pixabay).

Headaches are caused by the activation around the brain of pain-sensitive structures, such as vessels and muscles in the head and neck area. These structures are equipped with nociceptors, which can detect harmful or potential harmful stimuli. When these nociceptors receive stimulation, they send pain messages to the brain. This is perceived as a headache”, Dr Oak told


Dr Kumar explained that “The blood vessels which supply blood to the brain also have pain-receptors.” The trigeminal nervous system supplies sensation to the meninges and scalp (including nose, sinuses, and jaw). The pain in the face, neck, teeth, sinuses and scalp can also be perceived by people as a headache.

What are the trigger factors?

Stress, dehydration and lack of sleep are all factors that can cause this pain sensation. Other factors include sinus infections, migraines, stress, and lack of sleep. Dr Oak said that the type, intensity and location of a headache can vary depending on the cause and the unique physiological makeup of an individual.



To effectively manage and relieve the discomfort, it is important to identify the cause of the headache.