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Introduction: Why Pain? 

Introduction: Why Pain?
Chapter:
Introduction: Why Pain?
Author(s):

Kenneth L. Casey

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190880231.003.0001
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date: 18 April 2021

No human experience is more important than physical pain, the sensation caused by the injury of skin, muscle, bone, or internal organs. The impact of pain is revealed by personal choices (death before pain), public laws, religious proscriptions, and worldwide monetary impact. Pain usually signals tissue damage, helps locate the site of disease or injury, and triggers protective behaviors. However, the intensity of pain may be independent of tissue injury, especially among patients with various neurological disorders. Therefore, we seek to understand the physical, neurobiological mechanisms that create pain. We may then be able to manipulate it and determine its intensity and duration. In attempting to control pain, we are guided by implicit and explicit conceptual models that give pain an imagined physical reality. This is a story about the evolution of these models, the clinical and experimental evidence behind them, and the broad implications of this chase after pain.

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