What is Pain?
The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as:
However, an important addition was made in recent years, because it reflects the reality of non-verbal patients...including animals!
“The inability to communicate in no way negates the possibility that an individual is experiencing pain and is in need of appropriate pain relieving treatment.”
The important point is that pain is a conceptual sense, always subjective to the individual, always unpleasant, always elicits a cascade of stress chemicals and hormones, and is always both an emotional and physiologic experience. . .and that in animals, it can be sometime very difficult to know with certainty how much pain is being experienced.
Sometimes, pain is good; it protects us from further tissue damage (no one keeps their hand on the hot stove!). This would be considered “normal” or “adaptive” pain. But depending on its type, intensity, and duration,, pain can become bad, dangerous, harmful, debilitating, and self-perpetuating. . . not only to one’s state of mind but to the body itself; we call this “maladaptive” pain.
Treating, and preventing, maladaptive pain is our primary focus.