What is Pain?
Pain is a personal and subjective experience. The International Association for the Study of Pain defines it as an unpleasant experience associated with actual or potential tissue
damage to a personâ€™s body. Individuals use many different terms in an attempt to accurately describe their pain. Some of these terms include throbbing, aching, stabbing, burning, radiating and lancing. In addition to severity of injury, pain in influenced by age, gender, genetics, the state of health, ethnicity and psychological health.
Pain has both physical and psychological impact. Pain is perceived by the individual in relationship to past experience and to those past things/experiences they associated the pain with. For example a person who is experiencing back pain from what they believe to be a life threatening tumor rather than temporary joint inflammation will be less tolerant of the pain. An individual who is informed that their back pain is arising from a simple muscle strain and who is told that it will recover will be much more tolerant of the pain and will be more apt to remain active. In many cases individuals do not know what the cause of their back pain is and this leads to considerable worry and stress.
There are many different causes for pain although there are two basic forms of physical pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain, for the most part, results from disease, inflammation, or injury to tissues. It is immediate and usually of a short duration. Acute pain is a normal response to tissue injury and may be accompanied by anxiety or emotional distress. The cause of acute pain can usually be diagnosed and treated.
Chronic pain is persistent pain that persists for more than 3 months. It persists after the injured tissue has healed. The intensity of chronic pain ranges from mild to severe and can last weeks, months, years or throughout an individuals entire life. The cause of chronic pain is not always obvious. It can develop as the result of chronic conditions and diseases such as arthritis. Chronic pain often interferes with a persons quality of life in all areas.