The Pathways of Pain Essay

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The Pathways of Pain In 1931, the French medical missionary Dr. Albert Schweitzer wrote, "Pain is a more terrible lord of mankind than even death itself." Today, pain has become the universal disorder, a serious and costly public health issue, and 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 (1). Early humans related pain to evil, magic, and demons.

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"The philosophy that you have to learn to live with pain is one that I will never understand or advocate," says Dr. W. David Leak, Chairman & CEO of Pain Net, Inc. (4) . The focus of this paper has been on the numerous avenues explored by researchers and two methods of treatment that offer promising results.

What is pain? The International Association for the Study of Pain defines it as: An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage (1). It is useful to distinguish between two basic types of pain, acute and chronic, as they differ greatly. (7)

Acute pain, for the most part, results from disease, inflammation, or injury to tissues. This type of pain generally comes on suddenly, for example, after trauma or surgery, and may be accompanied by anxiety or emotional distress. The cause of acute pain can usually be diagnosed and treated, and the pain is self-limiting, that is, it is confined to a given period of time and severity. In some rare instances, it can become chronic (1). Chronic pain is widely believed to represent disease itself. It can be made much worse by environmental and psychological factors. Chronic pain persists over a longer period of time than acute pain and is resistant to most medical treatments. It can, and often does, cause severe problems for patients. There may have been an initial mishap such as a sprained back, serious infection, or there
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