After an auto accident or any traumatic event, your body will activate its fight or flight response mechanisms. By doing this, your body produces and releases its own form of opioids called endogenous opioids. These opioids bind to the opiate receptors located in the brain and spinal cord, reducing and delaying your perception of pain. The body produces three different types of endogenous opioids, Endorphins, Enkephalins, and Dynorphins. However, the body does not produce, or release, enough of these chemicals to relieve severe pain.
Endorphins are most commonly released when the body experiences stress, pain, trauma, or sensory overload. When released, this chemical will bind to the body’s opiate receptors; limiting and delaying the pain felt by the body. Endorphins help the mind and body cope with trauma, by sharpening the mind and allowing the body to move quickly. They can also cause you to feel euphoric, lower your appetite, and increase the functioning of your immune system. Over time, the body will stop producing and releasing these chemicals; causing you to feel pain, several days, and in some cases weeks, after initially sustaining an injury.
Enkephalins, similarly to Endorphins, bind to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. This chemical aids in pain relief, memory, emotional stability, and the reduction of inflammation. Enkephalins help you remain calm when your body experiences stressors and trauma. This chemical is largely present in the thalamus of the brain. Enkephalins modulate pain; meaning when they bind to the body’s opioid receptors, they release controlled levels of pain. This will make you aware of any damage to your body, without causing debilitating pain. Furthermore, Enkephalins play a greater role in causing feelings of euphoria than Endorphins.
Dynorphins are a recent discovery, and as such, their role in the body’s ability to control pain is still under investigation. Currently, it is suggested that the function of Dynorphins depends on where it was made. Dynorphins can reduce the body’s secretion of oxytocin, control the appetite, and can control the body’s pain response. This chemical can cause the body to experience analgesia (inability to feel pain); as it is 6-10 times more potent than morphine on a per mole basis. However, as Dynorphin can control feelings of pain, it can cause pain if it does not bind to opioid receptors; if instead, it binds to a bradykinin receptor, the body’s perception of pain will increase, which increases pain intensity.
Dynorphin also aids in the formation of aversion pathways; causing you to avoid future behaviors or situations that are reminiscent of those that attributed to the cause of the trauma. This chemical may also control mood, emotional behaviors, and the Sensory Nervous System’s response to potentially harmful stimuli (things/situations that your body perceives as harmful or dangerous). In other words, Dynorphins can help you remain calm in stressful situations, stabilize your mood to help you focus, and can stop the brain from experiencing sensory overload.
Were you or someone you know involved in a recent auto accident? Call Auto Accident Care Network now at 801-683-1948 to connect with a live care advocate. Our team at AACN can connect you to trusted attorneys and doctors to schedule a free legal consultation, a free thirty-minute massage, and a no-cost medical exam!