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PAIN AWARENESS

How to identify and assess pain

Pain is a signal from the central nervous system indicating that something is wrong. Pain is helpful in that it alerts the brain to take action. If we never felt pain, we could be injured or have a serious medical condition without any awareness that our body is in danger.

Unfortunately, chronic pain is an entirely different experience. It is often a symptom of a medical condition or has no known cause.

We have all likely experienced pain at some point in our lives. There are a variety of common words to describe pain, such as dull, acute, shooting, burning, sharp, or throbbing. However, people’s understanding of these words and their position on the pain scale can vary wildly. There is no medical way to diagnose a level of pain, so often it hinges on our subjective experience. A larger challenge occurs when trying to describe someone else’s pain. A particularly empathetic doctor might be better able to key into a level of pain, but most will rely on anecdotal descriptions to help them understand.

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