Doctor explains why your body still feels pain despite having anesthesia
| Last updated
Featured Image Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty/Westend61/Getty
If you’ve ever had major surgery or perhaps even the removal of a wisdom tooth, you’re likely to have had some form of anaesthesia.
It's administered during medical procedures to keep us comfortable and importantly, pain-free.
From general anaesthesia for open-heart surgery, regional anaesthesia during childbirth or local anaesthesia for a couple of stitches, there are different types depending on the situation.
But the key thing is to keep you from feeling pain.
However, a woman on TikTok shared a ‘fun fact’, claiming general anaesthesia ‘doesn’t actually numb you or help with the pain’.
She said: “It just puts you to sleep, so your body’s still feeling the pain.”
With users in a frenzy over this claim, an anaesthesiologist, Dr Zain Hasan, has his say on what she claims being ‘technically correct’, but more complex.
Hoping to ‘clear up some of the confusion’, the doctor said: “When you’re under general anaesthesia, your body still feels pain, but your brain does not process it.”
Hasan explained it depends on the amount you are given, the type and what other adjuncts are given to you during the process.
He added: “ Anaesthesia itself works in your brain, it numbs your brain. Kind of puts it to sleep, but your body still feels pain which means your body still goes through a mini stress test.”
The doctor has spoken about these ‘stress tests’ in his previous TikToks as he explains: “When you cut a muscle, when you cut skin, that part of the body feels the pain.
“Your heart will start racing, if you could, you would breathe a lot faster. But your brain doesn’t process it.
“Those same metabolites, endorphins, systemic releases – all those things still happen. Your heart still races. But, as long as your anaesthesia provider gives you the right medications during anaesthesia, it does mitigate a lot of that stress.”
Hasan also says that your body ‘still feels stressed from the surgery, from the anaesthesia itself, from all the other factors that are involved’.
And in simpler terms, he says: “So even though your brain is not processing the pain and you feel the pain afterwards, your body still feels the pain and you still have a mini stress test anytime you have surgery.”
The NHS says it’s ‘not clear exactly’ how anaesthesia works but that it is known that ‘all anaesthetics stop the nerves from passing signals to the brain’.
So sure, your body might be experiencing the pain and ‘feeling’ it, but the brain doesn’t process it.