Free nerve ending

Free nerve ending

A free nerve ending (FNE) is an unspecialized, afferent nerve ending, meaning it brings information from the body's periphery to the brain. They function as cutaneous receptors and are essentially used by vertebrates to detect pain.


Free nerve endings are unencapsulated and have no complex sensory structures, unlike those found in Meissner's or Pacinian corpuscles. They are the most common type of nerve ending, and are most frequently found in the skin. They penetrate the epidermis and end in the stratum granulosum.


Free nerve ending have different rate of adaptation, stimulus modalities and fiber types.

Rate of adaption

Different types of FNE can be rapidly adapting, intermediate adapting, or slowly adapting. Aδ fibres are fast-adapting, while C fibers are slowly adapting.


Free nerve endings can detect temperature, mechanical stimuli (touch, pressure, stretch) or pain (nociception). Thus, different free nerve endings work as thermoreceptors, cutaneous mechanoreceptors and nociceptors. In other words, they express polymodality.

Fiber types

The majority of Aδ (A delta) fibers (group III) and C (group IV) fibers end as free nerve endings.

External links


* [ Nociception: Transduction] . From the University of Utah.


*" [ Textbook in Medical Physiology And Pathophysiology: Essentials and clinical problems.] " Copenhagen Medical Publishers. 1999 - 2000

* [ Somatosensory System] from Dr. Daley of North Carolina Wesleyan College.

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