Have associated with pressure or temperature, causes

Have you ever wondered why people respond so differently to pain? Learn more about pain and factors that affect our responses to pain then test your knowledge with a quiz.

Etiology of Pain

What is pain? What causes it? Are there different types of pain? These may be some of the questions you have when considering why there is so much variation in how each of us experiences pain.

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In a very basic definition, pain is an unpleasant sensation and caused by tissue that has either been injured or is diseased. For example, if a guy, let’s call him John, stubs his toe on a cement step, this will cause him pain from injured tissue. Likewise, he would also experience pain from diseased tissue if he had rheumatoid arthritis in his hands.One factor the affects our individualized response to pain is that there are different types of pain. Pain is described as nociceptive or non-nociceptive or neuropathic. Nociceptive pain is pain felt in the skin, joints, muscles, ligaments, and organs. This pain is sensed by the stretching, oxygen deprivation, inflammation, and temperature of tissues.

A burn or a cut are examples of this type of pain. Non-nociceptive pain is nerve pain from within the nervous system. This pain is sensed from damage to our actual nerves.

This can occur from a back injury, like a slipped disc, or from uncontrolled diabetes that causes damage to nerves.Now that you have an understanding of what pain is, we can discuss other factors that affect individual responses to pain, such as duration, threshold, sensory overload, and cultural influences.

Duration of Pain

Acute pain lasts no longer than six months and is related to the severity of an injury. When John stubbed his toe earlier, he was in a lot of pain at first. As the injury begins to heal, the level of pain decreases. Another condition that can cause acute pain is surgery.

Acute pain is usually described as sharp, intense, throbbing, or burning. This type of pain can cause an increase in our heart rate and blood pressure.Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than six months. Diseases such as cancer and diabetic neuropathy can cause chronic pain.

People who suffer with chronic pain usually describe it as being uncomfortable, achy feeling, or sore.

Pain Threshold

People have a very wide variation on their pain threshold. Does being male or female have an effect on pain? Statistically, more women report having pain than men. Do men have a higher pain threshold than women? This has not been scientifically proven either way.What exactly does ‘pain threshold‘ mean? It is the point that a stimulus, usually associated with pressure or temperature, causes the sensation of pain.

This means the person’s pain receptors have been stimulated to the point that the person’s brain recognizes the sensation of pain somewhere in or on the body. People who have a lower pain threshold will experience pain much quicker than others with a higher threshold.There are several factors that can influence a person’s pain threshold. Depression and anxiety can cause a person to have a lower threshold. Athletes usually have higher thresholds than people who do not exercise. Likewise, overweight and obese people report more pain than those at normal weights. Things like genetics and chronic diseases, such as diabetes and nerve damage, also affect a person’s pain threshold.

Sensory Overload

Sensory overload occurs when we receive more information than we are able to process. This can happen from having the TV on while talking with a person, from too much lighting, a noisy environment, large group of people, changes in weather, or strong aromas. People who suffer with conditions such as fibromyalgia (FM) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are at risk for also experiencing sensory overload. Sensory overload can make other symptoms worse, including pain.Remember John from earlier in the lesson? Imagine that he is in a really bright room with fluorescent lighting, surrounded by dozens of people, everyone talking, little kids running around, large projection screens playing videos in the background; this is a lot to take in, right? Someone with FM or CFS would probably feel very overwhelmed in this situation, which would cause an increase in their symptoms of fatigue and pain.

Cultural Influences

We’ve already established that we all experience pain differently. How we express our pain can be divided into two groups: stoic and emotive.

People who are stoic are the ones who may be experiencing a great deal of pain but still, they just grin and bear it. People who are emotive are more expressive of the pain they are in and usually look to their family members and loved ones for support during times of pain. To make a very broad generalization of cultures, people from Hispanic, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean backgrounds are usually emotive while people from Northern European and Asian backgrounds tend to be stoic.

Lesson Summary

In a very basic definition, pain is an unpleasant sensation and caused by tissue that has either been injured or is diseased. Let’s look over the vocabulary we learned that is associated with pain:Nociceptive pain is pain felt in the skin, joints, muscles, ligaments, and organs. Non-nociceptive pain is nerve pain from within the nervous system.

Acute pain lasts no longer than six months and is related to the severity of an injury. Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than six months. Pain threshold is the point that a stimulus, usually associated with pressure or temperature, causes the sensation of pain.Sensory overload occurs when we receive more information than we are able to process.

People who are stoic are the ones who may be experiencing a great deal of pain but they still just grin and bear it. People who are emotive are more expressive of the pain they are in and usually look to their family members and loved ones for support during times of pain.

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