The A fibers and the C fibers and the Puzzle of Pain

Pain seems like something your gyno should be able to fix, and more often than not, we can. But there are aches and pains that just seem to defy solutions and remain a puzzle. Scientists are trying to figure out why. Start with the concept that pain is the feeling we get when a particular type of nerve fiber sends the brain a signal. A nerve is not just a nerve by any name. While this discussion is of course a gross over simplification, a few important facts have started to emerge. We have Type A-beta fibers, the mediate touch and sensation and we have C fibers, those mediate our perception of noxious stimuli. What triggers the chronic pain, irritation and discomfort of women with vulvodynia seems to be these C fibers getting out of whack. They release cytokines and neurokines to perform their signaling. And with chronic inflammation, product use, treatments, the responses can become inappropriate. So simple touch can give off a pain signal. Makes some sort of sense. In fact it's the type of nerves and the distribution of those nerves that may ultimately be the determining factor in a woman's predisposition to vulvodynia.The solutions can never be found if basic physiology is not understood, so this is a big step forward.

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