Pain: What is it and how do you treat it?
Chronic pain is recognized by the World Health Organization as a leading medical issue, worldwide.
Pain also has been called a first possible step on the road to opioid addiction. A slip, a broken limb followed by a prescription to oxycontin or other powerful opioid, misuse of that prescription, and the path to heroin or fentanyl abuse can easily start.
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Pain is an unpleasant sensation and emotional experience linked to tissue damage. Its purpose is to allow the body to react and prevent further tissue damage.
We feel pain when a signal is sent through nerve fibers to the brain for interpretation.
The experience of pain is different for everyone, and there are different ways of feeling and describing pain. This can makes it difficult to define and treat.
Pain can be short-term or long-term, it can stay in one place, or it can spread around the body.
Fast facts on pain:
--Pain results from tissue damage.
--It is a part of the body's defense mechanism. --It warns us to take action to prevent further tissue damage.
--People experience and describe pain differently, and this makes it hard to diagnose.
--A range of medications and other treatments can help relieve pain, depending on the cause.
Pain chronic, acute
Pain chronic, acute
Pain can be chronic or acute and take a variety of forms and severities.
Pain is felt when special nerves that detect tissue damage send signals to transmit information about the damage along the spinal cord to the brain. These nerves are known as nociceptors.
The brain then decides what to do about the pain.
For example, if you touch a hot surface, a message will travel through a reflex arc in the spinal cord and cause an immediate contraction of the muscles. This contraction will pull your hand away from the hot surface.
This happens so fast that the message doesn't even reach the brain. However, the pain message will continue to the brain. Once there, it will cause an unpleasant sensation of pain to be felt.
How an individual's brain interprets these signals and the efficiency of the communication channel between the nociceptors and the brain dictate how people feel pain.
Source: Medical News Today
By Adam FelmanReviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, PhD, RN, CRNA