Pain is what the patient says hurts

Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or
described in terms of such damage. Pain is the most common symptom of a disease.

The nature, location and cause of pain will differ in each case. Pain requires a holistic approach as it can be affected
by spiritual, psychological, social, and cultural factors, which may need to be addressed after physical pain is controlled.

Causes of pain

Pain can be divided into two types of causative categories:

  • Acute Pain: Caused by a specific action with a definite time period, e.g., postoperative, acute infection, or trauma
  • Chronic pain: Ongoing pain with an indefinite time period, for example
    • Constant and usually increasing: cancer
    • Recurrent sickle-cell crisis, arthritis, HIV/AIDS
    • Drug side-effect or toxicity (e.g., peripheral neuropathy
      due to isoniazid, chemotherapy)

Risk factors and mitigators

These factors increase pain perception:

  • Anxiety and depression, social abandonment
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of understanding of the problem

These factors decrease pain perception:

  • Relaxation, sleep
  • Relief of other symptoms
  • Explanation/understanding, venting feelings