Suffering as an independent component of pain
Pain has been defined as an ‘‘unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage...’’. This study introduces ‘suffering’ as an additional parameter in pain assessment, that is distinct from intensity and unpleasantness. It is considered here as a fundamental part of pain that goes beyond unpleasantness.
Twenty-four healthy participants took part in this study and received series of tonic and phasic noxious stimuli. Pain tolerance levels, pain thresholds and startle reflex measurements were taken as outcome measures, as well as several psychophysiological recordings. The results indicate a greater effect of tonic stimuli on pain intensity, unpleasantness and suffering. The suffering ratings varied according to the intensity and the duration of the noxious stimuli.
The results indicate that suffering is a fundamental component of pain processing that is distinct from pain intensity and suffering. This emphasizes the multidimensional nature of pain. Future work is needed to transfer this approach to the clinical setting, where it may contribute to the improvement of pain management.
> From: Bustan et al., Eur J Pain (2015) (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to European Pain Federation-EFIC. Click here for the Pubmed summary.