Pain is caused in the simplest case by something dangerous - heat from the stove, the cut of a knife, electricity from an outlet, an object colliding with your toe - that damages or threatens to damage tissue in your body. Pain receptors, called nociceptors, send signals to your brain via your spinal column telling you of the danger, so you can take measures to protect yourself from further injury. This type of pain, called nociceptive pain, is the most common. Nociceptive pain can last for months or years when damaged tissues cannot heal, and chronic inflammation may be involved. Another type of pain is caused by injured nerves, or other changes in the nervous system, and is called neuropathic pain. The disturbed nervous system sends pain signals to the brain even when there is no other ongoing tissue damage. Neuropathic pain is often experienced as tingling, aching, or burning and can last for months or years. Some patients have chronic pain, and doctors cannot pinpoint the source. Often, it is best to refer to this pain as idiopathic - which means that the cause is unknown. Pain can be treated through the use of drug therapies, rehabilitation therapies, psychological therapies, anesthetic therapies, neurostimulatory therapies, surgical approaches, and alternative or complementary approaches.

Who is at Risk?

The elderly are more likely to experience pain than the general population and are often undertreated for pain due to myths about their pain sensitivity, pain tolerance, and ability to benefit from opioid drugs.

Source: Continuum Health Partners, Inc.

Recent Pain Research and News at The Scripps Research Institute

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