What Is Pain?

Pain is something that everyone feels at one point in their lives. A person’s pain threshold is completely different from the next person. No two people experience pain the same way. “Unlike other sensations, pain can arise from intense stimulation in sensory pathways.” ( Zimbardo PG 185) Pain is always subjective. People learn the application of this word through their own personal experiences. Pain can be helped. It can be eased and sometimes vanished completely. Most pain goes untreated or improperly treated. People do not have to suffer needlessly with their pain. With the medical know how and skills available today pain can be managed and cured.

“The anterior cingulated cortex in the brain has been found to be the place where pain signals from different pathways converge.”(Zimbardo PG 185) A persons response to pain involves ” an interplay of biochemistry, nerve impulses and culturural factors.'( Zimbardo PG 185) A person’s personality influences their response to pain.
There are two main forms of pain. The first is acute pain. It is described as “sharp or sudden thrust of pain”(Webster Dic. PG267) One common form of acute pain would be headaches. Headaches usually come on suddenly with no warning. Although headaches can be eased and are not permanent they can affect a person in so many ways. “Pain is affected by experience and circumstance. A person who is unhappy may find a headache unbearable, while another person in a more satisfactory job considers a headache merely annoying.” (Zimbardo PG. 186) When you touch the handle of a pot cooking on a hot stove you feel this acute pain of being burnt. By the time your brain sends the signal, of releasing the handle, your hand will have already paid the consequences. The acute pain you feel with the minor burn will have classically conditioned you. Your brain now knows that when you touch the handle of a pot cooking on a hot stove you will be burnt and you will feel acute pain. Acute pain helps a person survive because people react by avoiding the harmful circumstance that causes the pain.
Chronic pain is the second main form of pain. “Constant and long lasting”(Webster’s Dic. PG68) is how chronic is defined. Chronic pain affects more than “fifty million Americans, which is caused by various diseases and disorders. Another twenty-five million Americans experience pain as a result of injury or surgery.”(Classification on Chronic Pain, Second Edition, Page 180) Chronic pain lasts more than a few months and can be reaccuring. Some pains from diabetes, aids and cancer cannot be cured but eased. As people get older there are many conditions that can cause chronic pain. With arthritis, older people feel discomfort in their joints and are sometimes unable to move these joints for long periods of time. “The experience of chronic pain can be debialitating.”Depression and even suicide can result from the endless nagging of chronic pain.”( Zimbardo Pg.185) Hospital research clinics do endless test that try to treat chronic pain. “These treatment programs are designed to find new ways to alleviate these pains. (Zimbardo Pg. 186)
Treatment for acute pain is intended to “remove the cause and provide relief while the body heals” (Pain an article by Nelson Hendler dated 10-2-99 found in a pamphlet from Long Island College Hospital) Doctors often prescribe acetaminophen such as Tylenol to help cure acute pains. Doctors also prescribe nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory drugs such as Aspirin, ibuprofen like Advil and Motrin. (Webster’s College Dic. under painkillers, Pg. 270)
Chronic pain is sometimes treated with antidepressants to help improve depression and sleep. Narcotics are also used for the most severe cases of chronic pain caused by cancer. Doctors also use placebos to try to control pain through the “mental process.”(Zimbardo Pg.186) Placebos are ” phony drugs that appear as real drugs.”(Zimbardo Pg.186) Some placebo drugs are just pills made from sugar. The “Placebo effect is effective because it involves the people’s belief that the are getting real medicine. ” (Zimbardo PG, 186) If left untreated chronic pain can stop a person from having an enjoyable and full life. Once the cause of the pain is under control your body and mind will be more relaxed.

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