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Pain signals from the head and face directly enter the brain stem where they join the pain pathways that travel from the spinal cord to the brain.
More than 100 million Americans have pain that persists for weeks to years. The IASP definition means that pain is a subjective experience; one that cannot be objectively measured and depends on the person’s self-report.The financial toll of this epidemic cost $560 billion to $635 billion per year according to Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research, a recent report from an Institute of Medicine (IOM). As will be discussed later, there can be a wide variability in how a person experiences pain to a given stimulus or injury.Pain is ultimately a challenge for family, friends, and health care providers who must give support to the individual suffering from the physical as well as the emotional consequences of pain. Committee on Advancing Pain Research, Care, and Education; Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research. Pain can be classified as acute or chronic, and the two kinds differ greatly.We may experience pain as a prick, tingle, sting, burn, or ache.Normally, acute pain is a protective response to tissue damage resulting from injury, disease, overuse, or environmental stressors.To sense pain, specialized receptors (called nociceptors) which are found throughout the body, trigger a series of events in response to a noxious (painful) stimulus.
The events begin with conversion of the stimulus to an electrical impulse that travels through nerves from the site of injury or disease process to the spinal cord.
These signals are transmitted to a specialized part of the spinal cord called the dorsal horn (see section on Spine Basics in the Appendix), where they can be dampened or amplified before being relayed to the brain.
Pain in its most benign form warns us that something isn't quite right, that we should take medicine or see a doctor.
At its worst, however, pain robs us of our productivity, our well-being, and, for many of us suffering from extended illness, our very lives.
Pain is a complex perception that differs enormously among individual patients, even those who appear to have identical injuries or illnesses.
The burden of pain in the United States is astounding. The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines it as: An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage.