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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pain is the unpleasant feeling common to such experiences as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting iodine on a cut and bumping the "funny bone".[1] The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as "an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage".[2]

Pain motivates us to withdraw from damaging or potentially damaging situations, protect the damaged body part while it heals, and avoid those situations in the future.[3] It is initiated by stimulation of nociceptors in the peripheral nervous system, or by damage to or malfunction of the peripheral or central nervous systems.[4] Most pain resolves promptly once the painful stimulus is removed and the body has healed, but sometimes pain persists despite removal of the stimulus and apparent healing of the body; and sometimes pain arises in the absence of any detectable stimulus, damage or pathology.[5] Social support, cultural values, hypnotic suggestion, excitement in sport or war, distraction, and appraisal can all significantly modulate pain's intensity or unpleasantness.[6][7]

Pain is the most common reason for physician consultation in the United States.[8] It is a major symptom in many medical conditions, and can significantly interfere with a person's quality of life and general functioning.[9] Pain medicine is a subspecialty under such medical specialties as anesthesiology, physiatry, neurology, palliative medicine and psychiatry.[10] The study of pain has in recent years attracted many different fields including pharmacology, neurobiology, nursing, dentistry, physiotherapy, and psychology.

ICD-10 R52
ICD-9 338
DiseasesDB 9503
MedlinePlus 002164
MeSH D010146

Etymology : "Pain (n.) 1297, "punishment," especially for a crime; also (c.1300) "condition one feels when hurt, opposite of pleasure," from O.Fr. peine, from L. poena "punishment, penalty" (in L.L. also "torment, hardship, suffering"), from Gk. poine "punishment," from PIE *kwei- "to pay, atone, compensate" (...)."




Pain is usually transitory, lasting only until the noxious stimulus is removed or the underlying damage or pathology has healed, but some painful conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, cancer and idiopathic pain, may persist for years. Pain that lasts a long time is called chronic, and pain that resolves quickly is called acute. Traditionally, the distinction between acute and chronic pain has relied upon an arbitrary interval of time from onset; the two most commonly used markers being 3 months and 6 months since the onset of pain,[11] though some theorists and researchers have placed the transition from acute to chronic pain at 12 months.[12] Others apply acute to pain that lasts less than 30 days, chronic to pain of more than six months duration, and subacute to pain that lasts from one to six months.[13] A popular alternative definition of chronic pain, involving no arbitrarily fixed durations is "pain that extends beyond the expected period of healing."[11] Chronic pain may be divided into "cancer" and "benign".[13]

Region and system

Pain can be classed according to its location in the body, as in headache, low back pain and pelvic pain; or according to the body system involved, i.e., myofascial (emanating from skeletal muscles or the fibrous sheath surrounding them), rheumatic (emanating from the joints and surrounding tissue), causalgic ("burning" pain in the skin of the arms or, sometimes, legs; thought to be the product of peripheral nerve damage), neurologic (caused by damage to or malfunction of any part of the nervous system), or vascular (pain from blood vessels).[11]

Etiology (cause)

The crudest example of classification by etiology simply distinguishes "somatogenic" pain (arising from a perturbation of the body) from "psychogenic" pain (arising from a perturbation of the mind. When a thorough physical exam, imaging, and laboratory tests fail to detect the cause of pain, it is assumed to be the product of psychic conflict or psychopathology).[11] Portenoy divided somatogenic pain into "nociceptive" (caused by activation of nociceptors) and "neuropathic" (caused by damage to or malfunction of the nervous system).[14]


Nociceptive pains may be classified according to the mode of noxious stimulation; the most common categories being "thermal" (heat or cold), "mechanical" (crushing, tearing, etc.) and "chemical" (iodine in a cut, chilli powder in the eyes).

Nociceptive pains may also be divided into "superficial" and "deep", and deep pains into "deep somatic" and "visceral". Superficial pains are initiated by activation of nociceptors in the skin or superficial tissues, and are sharp, well-defined, clearly localized pains. Examples of injuries that produce superficial pain include minor wounds and minor (first degree) burns. Deep somatic pains are initiated by stimulation of nociceptors in ligaments, tendons, bones, blood vessels, fasciae and muscles, and are dull, aching, poorly-localized pains; examples include sprains, broken bones and myofascial pain. Visceral pains originate in the viscera (organs) and are usually more aching or cramping than somatic pains. Visceral pains may be well-localized, but often they are extremely difficult to locate, and several visceral regions produce "referred" pain when injured, where the sensation is located in an area completely unrelated to the site of injury.[15]


Neuropathic pain is divided into "peripheral" (originating in the peripheral nervous system) and "central" (originiting in the brain or spinal cord).[16] Peripheral neuropathic pain is often described as “burning,” “tingling,” “electrical,” “stabbing,” or “pins and needles.” [17] Bumping the "funny bone" elicits peripheral neuropathic pain.

IASP Multiaxial classification system

The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) synthesizes much of the above and recommends describing pain according to five categories, or axes: its anatomical location (neck, lower back, etc.), the body system involved (gastrointestinal, nervous, etc.), temporal characteristics (intermittent, constant, etc.), intensity and time since onset, and etiology (cause).[18] This IASP system has been criticized by Woolf and others as inadequate for guiding research and treatment.[19] They propose the development of an additional category based, not on symptoms or underlying conditions, but on the type of neurochemical mechanism generating the pain.[11]


Using the Multidimensional Pain Inventory (MPI), a questionnare designed to assess the chronic pain patient's psychosocial state, Turk and Rudy[20] found three types of chronic pain patient: "(a) dysfunctional, patients who perceived the severity of their pain to be high, reported that pain interfered with much of their lives, reported a higher degree of psychological distress caused by pain, and reported low levels of activity; (b) interpersonally distressed, patients with a common perception that significant others were not very supportive of their pain problems; and (c) adaptive copers, patients who reported high levels of social support, relatively low levels of pain and perceived interference, and relatively high levels of activity."[11] Turk and Okifuji recommend combining MPI characterization of the patient with the IASP multiaxial profile of their pain to arrive at the most useful case description.[11]

In health care

As an aid to diagnosis

Pain is a symptom of many medical conditions. Knowing the time of onset, location, intensity, pattern of occurrence (continuous, intermittent, etc.), exacerbating and relieving factors, and quality (burning, sharp, etc.) of the pain will help the examining physician to accurately diagnose the underlying trauma or pathology. For example, chest pain described as extreme heaviness may indicate myocardial infarction, while chest pain described as tearing may indicate aortic dissection.[21][22]

Patient report is the most reliable measure of these factors; health professionals tend to underestimate pain.[23] A definition of pain widely employed in nursing, emphasizing its subjective nature and the importance of believing patient reports, was introduced by Margo McCaffery in 1968: "Pain is whatever the experiencing person says it is, existing whenever he says it does".[24][25] To assess intensity, the patient may be asked to locate their pain on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain at all, and 10 the worst pain they have ever felt. Quality can be established by having the patient complete the McGill Pain Questionnaire indicating which words best describe their pain.[9]

Assessment in nonverbal patients

When a patient is non-verbal and cannot self report pain, observation becomes critical, and specific behaviors can be monitored as pain indicators. Behaviors such as facial grimacing and guarding indicate pain, as well as an increase or decrease in vocalizations, changes in routine behavior patterns and mental status changes. Patients experiencing pain may exhibit withdrawn social behavior and possibly experience a decreased appetite and decreased nutritional intake. A change in condition that deviates from baseline such as moaning with movement or when manipulating a body part, and limited range of motion are also potential pain indicators. In patients that are vocal but incapable of expressing themselves effectively, such as those with a dementia related diagnosis, an increase in confusion or display of aggressive behaviors, including agitation, may signal that discomfort exists, and further assessment is necessary.

Infants feel pain. Pre-term babies are more sensitive to painful stimuli than full term babies. They lack the verbal skills needed to report pain, so communicate distress by crying. A non-verbal pain assessment should be conducted which should involve the parents, who will notice changes in the infant not obvious to the health care provider.[26]

Other barriers to reporting

An aging adult may not respond to pain in the way that a younger person would. Their ability to recognize pain may be blunted by illness or the use of multiple prescription drugs. Depression may also keep the older adult from reporting they are in pain. The older adult may also quit doing activities they love because it hurts too much. Decline in self-care activities (dressing, grooming, walking, etc.) may also be indicators that the older adult is experiencing pain. The older adult may refrain from reporting pain because they are afraid they will have to have surgery or will be put on a drug they become addicted to. They may not want others to see them as weak, or may feel there is something impolite or shameful in complaining about pain, or they may feel the pain is deserved punishment for past transgressions.[27]

Cultural barriers can also keep a person from telling someone they are in pain. Religious beliefs may prevent the individual from seeking help. They may feel certain pain treatment is against their religion. They may not report pain because they feel it is a sign that death is near. Many people fear the stigma of addiction and avoid pain treatment so as not to be prescribed addicting drugs. Many Asians do not want to lose respect in society by admitting they are in pain and need help, believing the pain should be borne in silence, while other cultures feel they should report pain right away and get immediate relief.[26] Gender can also be a factor in reporting pain. Gender differences are usually the result of social and cultural expectations, with women expected to be emotional and show pain and men stoic, keeping pain to themselves.[26]

Medical treatment and management

Medicine treats injury and pathology to promote healing; and addresses distressing symptoms such as pain to relieve suffering during treatment and healing. When a painful injury or pathology is resistant to treatment and persists, when pain persists after the injury or pathology has healed, and when medical science cannot identify the cause of pain, the job of the physician is to relieve suffering. Transitory pain is usually managed by one practitioner with drugs such as anesthetics, analgesics and (occasionally) anxiolytics. The effective management of long term pain, however, frequently requires the coordinated efforts of a pain management team. The typical pain management team includes a medical practitioner, a clinical psychologist, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, and a nurse practitioner.[28]

Inadequate treatment of pain is widespread throughout surgical wards, intensive care units, accident and emergency departments, in general practice, in the management of all forms of chronic pain including cancer pain, and in end of life care.[29][30][31][32][33][34][35][36] This neglect is extended to all ages, from neonates to the frail elderly.[37][38][39] African and Hispanic Americans are more likely to suffer needlessly in the hands of a physician than whites;[40][41] and women's pain is more likely to be undertreated than men's.[42]

Failure to provide adequate pain relief may be due to physicians' fear of being accused of over-prescribing (See the case of Dr William E. Hurwitz), despite the rarity of such prosecutions; physicians' poor understanding of the risks attached to opioid prescription;[43] or physicians' adherance to the biomedical model of disease which focuses on pathophysiology rather than quality of life, marginalizing pain management.[44] As a result of two recent cases in California though, where physicians who failed to provide adequate pain relief were successfully sued for elder abuse, the North American medical and health care communities appear to be undergoing a shift in perspective. The California Medical Board publicly reprimanded the physician in the second case; the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has declared a willingness to charge with fraud health care providers who accept payment for providing adequate pain relief while failing to do so; and clinical practice guidelines and standards are evolving into clear, unambiguous statements on acceptable pain management, so health care providers can no longer avoid culpability by claiming that poor or no pain relief meets community standards[43]

Complementary and alternative medicine

Pain is the most common reason that people use complementary and alternative medicine.[45][46] Traditional Chinese medicine views pain as a 'blocked' qi, akin to electrical resistance, with treatments such as acupuncture claimed as more effective for nontraumatic pain than traumatic pain. Although the mechanism is not fully understood, acupuncture may stimulate the release of large quantities of endogenous opioids.[47] There is interest in the relationship between vitamin D and pain, but the evidence from controlled trials for such a relationship, other than in osteomalacia, is unconvincing.[48] A 2007 review of 13 studies found evidence for the efficacy of hypnosis in the reduction of pain in some conditions, though the number of patients enrolled in the studies was low, bringing up issues of power to detect group differences, and most lacked credible controls for placebo and/or expectation. The authors concluded that "although the findings provide support for the general applicability of hypnosis in the treatment of chronic pain, considerably more research will be needed to fully determine the effects of hypnosis for different chronic-pain conditions." (p. 283)[49] Physical manipulation and exercise are showing interesting results in some pain conditions.[50]

Evolutionary and behavioral role

Pain is part of the body's defense system, producing a reflexive retraction from the painful stimulus, and tendencies to protect the affected body part while it heals, and avoid that harmful situation in the future.[3][51] It is an important part of animal life, vital to healthy survival. People with congenital insensitivity to pain have reduced life expectancy.[52] Idiopathic pain (pain that persists after the trauma or pathology has healed, or that arises without any apparent cause), may be an exception to the idea that pain is helpful to survival, although John Sarno argues that such pain is psychogenic, enlisted as a protective distraction to keep dangerous emotions unconscious.[53] It is not clear what the survival benefit of some extreme forms of pain (e.g. toothache) might be, and the intensity of some forms of pain (for example as a result of injury to fingernails or toenails) seems to be out of all proportion to any survival benefits.



Descartes' pain pathway.

In his 1664 Treatise of Man, René Descartes traced a pain pathway. "Particles of heat" (A) activate a spot of skin (B) attached by a fine thread (cc) to a valve in the brain (de) where this activity opens the valve, allowing the animal spirits to flow from a cavity (F) into the muscles that then flinch from the stimulus, turn the head and eyes toward the affected body part, and move the hand and turn the body protectively. The underlying premise of this model - that pain is the direct product of a noxious stimulus activating a dedicated pain pathway, from a receptor in the skin, along a thread or chain of nerve fibers to the pain center in the brain, to a mechanical behavioral response - remained the dominant perspective on pain until the mid-nineteen sixties.[54]


Specificity theory (dedicated pain receptor and pathway) has been challenged by the theory, proposed initially in 1874 by Wilhelm Erb, that a pain signal can be generated by stimulation of any sensory receptor, provided the stimulation is intense enough: the pattern of stimulation (intensity over time and area), not the receptor type, determines whether nociception occurs. Alfred Goldscheider (1894) proposed that over time, activity from many sensory fibers might accumulate in the dorsal horns of the spinal cord and begin to signal pain once a certain threshold of accumulated stimulation has been crossed. In 1953, Willem Noordenbos observed that a signal carried from the area of injury along large diameter "touch, pressure or vibration" fibers may inhibit the signal carried by the thinner "pain" fibers - the ratio of large fiber signal to thin fiber signal determining pain intensity; hence, we rub a smack. This was taken as a demonstration that pattern of stimulation (of large versus thin fibers in this instance) modulates pain intensity.[55]

Gate Control

This all set the scene for Melzack and Wall's classic 1965 Science article "Pain Mechanisms: A New Theory".[56] Here the authors proposed that the large diameter ("touch, pressure, vibration") and thin ("pain") fibers meet at two places in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord: the "transmission" (T) cells, and the "inhibitory" cells. Both large fiber signals and thin fiber signals excite the T cells, and when the output of the T cells exceeds a critical level, pain begins. The job of the inhibitory cells is to inhibit activation of the T cells. The T cells are the gate on pain, and inhibitory cells can shut the gate. If your large diameter and thin fibers have been activated by a noxious event, they will be exciting T cells (opening the pain gate). At the same time, the large diameter fibers will be exciting the inhibitory cells (tending to close the gate), while the thin fibers will be impeding the inhibitory cells (tending to leave the gate open). So, the more large fiber activity relative to thin fiber activity, the less pain you will feel. They had conceived a neural "circuit diagram" to explain why we rub a smack.[54]

The authors then added the most enduring and influential element of their theory: a pain modulating signal coming down from the brain to the dorsal horn. They pictured the large fiber signals traveling, not only from the site of injury to the inhibitory and T cells in the dorsal horn, but also up to the brain where, depending on the state of the brain, they may trigger a signal back down to the dorsal horn to further modulate T cell activity and so pain intensity. This model provided a neuroscientific rationale for taking seriously the effect of motivation and cognition on pain.[54]


In 1968 Melzack and Casey described pain in terms of its three dimensions: "Sensory-discriminative" (sense of the intensity, location, quality and duration of the pain), "Affective-motivational" (unpleasantness and urge to escape the unpleasantness), and "Cognitive-evaluative" (cognitions such as appraisal, cultural values, distraction and hypnotic suggestion).[7] They theorized that pain intensity (the sensory discriminative dimension) and unpleasantness (the affective-motivational dimension) are not simply determined by the magnitude of the painful stimulus, but “higher” cognitive activities (the cognitive-evaluative dimension) can influence perceived intensity and unpleasantness. Cognitive activities "may affect both sensory and affective experience or they may modify primarily the affective-motivational dimension. Thus, excitement in games or war appears to block both dimensions of pain, while suggestion and placebos may modulate the affective-motivational dimension and leave the sensory-discriminative dimension relatively undisturbed." (p. 432) The paper ended with a call to action: "Pain can be treated not only by trying to cut down the sensory input by anesthetic block, surgical intervention and the like, but also by influencing the motivational-affective and cognitive factors as well." (p. 435)

Theory today

Regions of the cerebral cortex associated with pain.

Specificity, the theory that pain is transmitted from specific pain receptors along dedicated pain fibers to a pain center in the brain, has withstood the challenge from pattern theory, though the "pain center" in the brain has become an elaborate neural network. Wilhelm Erb's (1874) early pattern theory hypothesis, that a pain signal can be generated by intense enough stimulation of any sensory receptor, has been soundly disproved.[57] A-delta and C peripheral nerve fibers carry information regarding the state of the body to the dorsal horn of the spinal cord.[58] Some of these A-delta and C fibers (nociceptors) respond only to painfully intense stimuli, while others do not differentiate noxious from non-noxious stimuli.[57] A.D.Craig and colleagues have identified fibers dedicated to carrying A-delta fiber pain signals, and others dedicated to carrying C fiber pain signals up the spinal cord to the thalamus in the brain.[59] There is a specific pain pathway from nociceptor to brain. Pain-related activity in the thalamus spreads to the insular cortex (thought to embody, among other things, the feeling that distinguishes pain from other homeostatic emotions such as itch and nausea) and anterior cingulate cortex (thought to embody, among other things, the motivational element of pain);[58] and pain that is distinctly located also activates the primary and secondary somatosensory cortices.[60][61]

The gate control theory has not fared well. Most of the dorsal horn interneurons identified by Melzack and Wall as inhibitory are in fact excitatory,[57] and Koji Inui and colleagues have recently shown that pain reduction due to non-noxious touch or vibration can result from activity within the cerebral cortex, with minimal contribution at the spinal level.[62] Melzack and Casey's 1968 picture of the dimensions of pain is as influential today as ever, firmly framing theory and guiding research in the functional neuroanatomy and psychology of pain.

Special cases

Phantom pain

Phantom pain is the sensation of pain from a limb or organ that has been lost or from which a person no longer receives physical signals. Phantom limb pain is an experience almost universally reported by amputees and quadriplegics. Phantom pain is a type of neuropathic pain.

Pain asymbolia

Pain science acknowledges, in a puzzling challenge to IASP definition,[2] that pain may be experienced as a sensation devoid of any unpleasantness: this happens in a syndrome called pain asymbolia or pain dissociation, caused by conditions like lobotomy, cingulotomy or morphine analgesia. Typically, such patients report that they have pain but are not bothered by it, they recognize the sensation of pain but are mostly or completely immune to suffering from it.[63]

Insensitivity to pain

The ability to experience pain is essential for protection from injury, and recognition of the presence of injury. Insensitivity to pain may occur in special circumstances, such as for an athlete in the heat of the action, or for an injured soldier happy to leave the battleground. This phenomenon is now explained by the gate control theory. However, insensitivity to pain may also be an acquired impairment following conditions such as spinal cord injury, diabetes mellitus, or more rarely Hansen's Disease (leprosy).[64] A few people can also suffer from congenital insensitivity to pain, or congenital analgesia, a rare genetic defect that puts these individuals at constant risk from the consequences of unrecognized injury or illness. Children with this condition suffer carelessly repeated damages to their tongue, eyes, bones, skin, muscles. They may attain adulthood, but they have a shortened life expectancy.

Psychogenic pain

Psychogenic pain, also called psychalgia or somatoform pain, is physical pain that is caused, increased, or prolonged by mental, emotional, or behavioral factors.[65][66] Psychogenic pain commonly manifests as headache, back pain, or stomach pain.[65] Sufferers are often stigmatized, because both medical professionals and the general public tend to think that pain from a psychological source is not "real". However, specialists consider that it is no less actual or hurtful than pain from other sources.

Society and culture

The okipa ceremony as witnessed by George Catlin, circa 1835.

Physical pain has been diversely understood or defined from antiquity to modern times.[67] Philosophy of pain is a branch of philosophy of mind that deals essentially with physical pain. Identity theorists assert that the mental state of pain is completely identical with some physiological state. Functionalists consider pain only with regard to its causal relation to other mental states, sensory inputs, and behavioral outputs. Religious or secular traditions usually define the nature or meaning of physical pain in every society.[68] Sometimes, extreme practices are highly regarded: mortification of the flesh, painful rites of passage, walking on hot coals, etc. Variations in pain threshold or in pain tolerance occur between individuals for various reasons including genetics, cultural background, ethnicity and sex.

Physical pain is an important political topic in relation to various issues, including distribution of resources for pain management, drug control, animal rights, torture, pain compliance (see also pain beam, pain maker, pain ray). Corporal punishment is the deliberate infliction of pain intended to punish a person or change his behavior. More generally, it is rather as a part of pain in the broad sense, i.e., suffering, that physical pain is dealt with in cultural, religious, philosophical, or social issues.

In animals

Portrait of René Descartes by Jan Baptist Weenix 1647-1649

The most reliable method for assessing pain in most humans is by asking a question: a person may report pain that cannot be detected by any known physiological measure. However, like infants (Latin infans meaning "unable to speak"), non-human animals cannot answer questions about whether they feel pain; thus the defining criterion for pain in humans cannot be applied to them. Philosophers and scientists have responded to this difficulty in a variety of ways. René Descartes for example argued that animals lack consciousness and therefore do not experience pain and suffering in the way that humans do.[69][70] Bernard Rollin of Colorado State University, the principal author of two U.S. federal laws regulating pain relief for animals,[71] writes that researchers remained unsure into the 1980s as to whether animals experience pain, and that veterinarians trained in the U.S. before 1989 were simply taught to ignore animal pain.[72] In his interactions with scientists and other veterinarians, he was regularly asked to "prove" that animals are conscious, and to provide "scientifically acceptable" grounds for claiming that they feel pain.[72] Carbone writes that the view that animals feel pain differently is now a minority view. Academic reviews of the topic are more equivocal, noting that although the argument that animals have at least simple conscious thoughts and feelings has strong support,[73] some critics continue to question how reliably animal mental states can be determined.[70][74] The ability of invertebrate species of animals, such as insects, to feel pain and suffering is also unclear.[75][76]

The presence of pain in an animal cannot be known for certain, but it can be inferred through physical and behavioral reactions.[77] Specialists currently believe that all vertebrates can feel pain, and that certain invertebrates, like the octopus, might too.[78][79] As for other animals, plants, or other entities, their ability to feel physical pain is at present a question beyond scientific reach, since no mechanism is known by which they could have such a feeling. In particular, there are no known nociceptors in groups such as plants, fungi, and most insects,[80] except for instance in fruit flies.[81]

In vertebrates, endogenous opioids are neurochemicals that moderate pain by interacting with opiate receptors. Opioids and opiate receptors occur naturally in crustaceans and, although at present no certain conclusion can be drawn,[82] their presence indicates that lobsters may be able to experience pain.[82][83] Opioids may mediate their pain in the same way as in vertebrates.[83] Veterinary medicine uses, for actual or potential animal pain, the same analgesics and anesthetics as used in humans.[84]


  1. ^ The examples represent respectively the three classes of nociceptive pain - mechanical, thermal and chemical - and neuropathic pain.
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    Bonica, JJ (1979). Pain 6 (3): 247–252. ISSN 0304-3959. PMID 460931. 
    It is derived from Harold Merskey's 1964 definition: "An unpleasant experience that we primarily associate with tissue damage or describe in terms of tissue damage or both."
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External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Pain is an unpleasant sensation which may be associated with actual or potential tissue damage and which may have physical and emotional components.


  • You probably don't think that I can force this towel down your throat. But trust me, I can. All the way. Except I'd hold onto this one little bit at the end. When your stomach starts to digest it, I pull it out. Taking your stomach lining with it. For most people it would take about a week to die. It's very painful.
  • Douleur toujours nouvelle pour celui qui souffre et qui se banalise pour l'entourage.
    • Pain is always new to the sufferer, but loses its originality for those around him.
    • Alphonse Daudet, La doulou: (la douleur), 1887-1895 (Paris: Librairie de France, 1930) p. 16; Julian Barnes (ed. and trans.) In the Land of Pain (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002) p. 19.
  • It never occurred to me to call 911 or my physician. […] As foolish as it may appear, you are, in a sense, a prisoner of the pain, which was intolerable. You're thinking, what could I do to relieve myself of it. If it becomes intense enough, you're perfectly willing to accept cardiac arrest as a possible way of getting rid of the pain.
  • But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy
  • Pain is temporary, glory is forever.
    • Anonymous, quoted as an anonymous proverb in Preaching Proverbs : Wisdom for the Pulpit‎ (1996) by Alyce M. McKenzie, p. 84


  • Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing, I would choose pain.
  • If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.
  • Pain don't hurt.
    • Patrick Swayze
  • "Pain is just a strain on the brain."
    • Connie
  • Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.
  • Pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
  • Pain is weakness leaving the body.
    • Marine Corps saying
  • Pain is why I did that then, and why you do this now.
    • Blake Allen
  • Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.
    • Dante A. Lavey
  • People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that's bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they're afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they're wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It's all in how you carry it. That's what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you're letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.
  • The worst pain a man can suffer: to have insight into much and power over nothing.
  • Pose Pose why do you suppose why Pain is our name? Because that’s what we choose. And life without pain is a long endless chain of errors repeated again and again. So don’t be afraid of pain, don’t run away.
    • American punk band Pain
  • There's only one thing to say about pain, it hurts.
    • Zeke Willey
  • Pain doesn't exist, It's just what you think and when you think.
    • James Griffiths
  • You can't avoid can only deal with it! In some cases, you have to learn to deal with it first!
    • Scott Thomson

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
Look up pain in Wiktionary, the free dictionary

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

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Psychological treatments of pain


Virtual reality hypnotism (computer simulation) shows significant pain reduction for patients suffering burns or spinal cord injury and 50% reduction in medication (Askay, Patterson & Sharar, 2009).

External links

Askay, S. W., Patterson. D. R.., & Sharar, S. R. (2009). Virtual reality hypnosis. Contemporary Hypnosis, 26 (1), 40-47.

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

This is a disambiguation page, which lists works which share the same title. If an article link referred you here, please consider editing it to point directly to the intended page.

Pain may refer to:

  • Pain, a poem by Sara Teasdale.
  • Pain, a poetic essay by Khalil Gibran (still under copyright).

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PAIN (from Lat. poena, Gr. 7roivn, penalty, that which must be paid: O. Fr. peine), a term used loosely (I) for the psychological state, which may be generally described as "unpleasantness," arising, e.g. from the contemplation of a catastrophe or of moral turpitude, and (2) for physical (or psycho-physical) suffering, a specific sensation localized in a particular part of the body. The term is used in both senses as the opposite of "pleasure," though it is doubtful whether the antithesis between physical and psychical pleasure can be equally well attested. The investigation of the pleasure-pain phenomena of consciousness has taken a prominent place in psychological and ethical speculation, the terms "hedonics" and "algedonics" (itXynblov, pain of body or mind) being coined to express different aspects of the subject. So in aesthetics attempts have been made to assign to pain a specific psychological function as tending to increase pleasure by contrast (so Fechner): pain, e.g. is a necessary element in the tragic. Scientists have experimented elaborately with a view to the precise localization of pain-sensations, and "pain-maps" can be drawn showing the exact situation of what are known as "pain-spots." For such experiments instruments known as "aesthesiometers" and "algometers" have been devised. The great variety of painful sensations throbbing, dull, acute, intermittent, stabbing - led to the conclusion among earlier investigators that pains differ in quality. It is, however, generally agreed that all pain is qualitatively the same, though subject to temporal and intensive modification. (See PSYCHOLOGY; AESTHETICS; NERVOUS SYSTEM; SYM PATHETIC SYSTEM.)

<< Paimpol

Barry Pain >>


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also pain


Proper noun




  1. An English surname, variant of Paine.


  • Anagrams of ainp
  • NIPA

Simple English

Pain is a symptom of being hurt or sick. It is a bad sensation that is physical and emotional.

Most pain starts when part of the body is hurt. Nerves in that part send messages to the brain. Those messages tell the brain that the body is being damaged. Pain is not just the message the nerve sends to the brain. It is the bad emotion felt because of that damage.

The message that the nerve sends to the brain is called nociception. What is experienced because of the nociception is pain.


Kinds of pain

Pain can be acute or chronic. Acute means it only happens a short time. Chronic means the pain lasts a long time.

Pain can be from different types of injury:

  • Cutaneous pain is from damage to the skin. This is the pain a person feels when their wrist is cut with a knife.
  • Visceral pain is from damage to the organs inside the body – like the stomach, kidney, and heart. This is the pain a person feels when they have an ulcer.
  • Somatic pain is from muscles, bones, and joints. This is the pain a person feels when they sprain (twist) a joint like the ankle.

Pain can also happen when there is no underlying injury or cause. Pain can happen just because the nerves do not work right. This is called neuropathic pain.

Treatments for pain

For most pain, the best treatment is to stop the damage that makes the pain. If the ankle is sprained, doctors tells the person not to walk on it. They tell them to put ice on it. This helps the injury stop. For an ulcer in the stomach, doctors stop the acid made in the stomach. This helps the ulcer to heal.

But many kinds of pain also need medicines to feel better. There are many different kinds of medicines for pain:

  • NSAIDs (Acronym) for Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug. These medicines decrease the inflammation where the person is hurt. They also work in the brain to decrease pain. Examples are aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. These medicines can make someone sleepy but they are not addictive. They can cause problems with kidneys and with peptic ulcers.
  • Opioids are narcotic pain relievers. They do not have the kidney and stomach problems that NSAIDs have. But they can make someone very sleepy and have other potential side effects, such as lack of coordination, inability to concentrate, blurred vision, and weight gain. They can be addictive.
  • Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) is not a narcotic or an NSAID. So it is much safer than either one, but can cause liver damage.
  • Anti-seizure medicines (also called antiepileptics or anti-convulsants) – many of these medicines work for chronic neuropathic pain. Other pain medicines may not work at all for those kinds of pain. Examples are carbamazepine and gabapentin.
  • Anti-depression medicines can also help chronic pain, even if it is not neuropathic pain. This is partly because of an affect on pain itself. But it also helps, because living in chronic pain can cause depression.

There are doctors who specialize in pain management. These are usually anesthesiologists but may also have any one of a number of underlying areas of specialization, such as neurology, physiatry, or internal medicine.

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