M5 Discussion – The Ins and Outs of Pain

Part A:

Why do we feel pain? What purpose does it serve? How does the nervous system register pain? Please discuss these points in detail and use


The basic explanation for why pain is felt, is defined as a direct consequence of a physical stimuli (Brannon, 2018). However, recent

ideas regarding psychological factors that contribute to pain have brought about new theories. For example, the individual subjectivity of

pain brings about other elements to why and how pain is felt. What is more, cultural and situational factors influence this experience.

This is due to the nature of the meaning of pain which can vary across culture. For example, in many cultures giving birth is considered a

painful and very dangerous situation, thus the women in those cultures experience a great deal of pain when they are giving birth

(Brannon, 2018). However, when compared with cultures who view giving birth as a process which requires acceptance of the pain, women have

shown less evidence of pain (Brannon, 2018). Often, if a culture does not expect individuals to feel pain, those individuals will withdraw

from showing pain (Brannon, 2018).

When considering acute pain, the purpose is to alert the brain of an injury, and to also serve as a reminder to avoid a similar injury in

the future (Brannon, 2018). However, the signals to the brain related to chronic pain appear to serve no purpose; this is because the

signals are not related to an injury, and may result in poor quality of life insofar as deprived sleep, and intensified pain due to poor

sleep habits (Brannon, 2018).

The nervous system registers pain due to receptors that are near the skin’s surface, which react to a stimulus (Brannon, 2018). Then,

there are impulses delivered by the nerves, which relay a message to the spinal cord (Brannon, 2018). The spinal cord plays an important

role in the experience of pain, since it is the avenue by which physical information travels toward the brain (Brannon, 2018). When this

message is received by the spinal cord, it is delivered to the brain, where it is received by the somatosensory cortex, and interpreted as

pain (Brannon, 2018). Some areas of the body relay stronger messages to the somatosensory cortex, and this is due to some areas containing

more receptors. For example, hands have more receptors than the back, and this means that the hands can sense more physical stimuli than

the back (Brannon, 2018).

Part B:

How is pain treated? Please discuss at least 3 methods in which pain can be treated. Of the ones you select, please be sure to identify at

least one alternative approach to treating pain.

To treat pain, a rating scale is usually used to determine intensity of the pain. This can be done by asking the patient to rate from a

scale of 0 to 10, for example (Brannon, 2018). Other sources can be used, such as questionnaires, standardized psychological tests,

behavioral assessments, or psychological measures (Brannon, 2018). Once the intensity of pain is determined, action may consist of medical

treatment or behavioral management. Analgesic drugs may relieve pain, and these consists of opiates and nonnarcotic (Brannon, 2018). These

are prescribed from a physician, since prolonged use may often lead to tolerance (decreased responsiveness of the drug) or dependence

(experiencing withdrawal symptoms from disuse) (Brannon, 2018). There are advantages to medical pain treatment with opiates, since they

produce complete relief for most people. However, there are dangers regarding abuse of these drugs due to their addictive nature. Another

treatment for pain is surgery. This is used when there is a need for repair or alter the nervous system which is causing the source of

pain (Brannon, 2018). This is offered when other treatments have been attempted and have failed since it is often very invasive and

expensive. Drawbacks to surgical removal of pain can be demonstrated by the fact that it is not always productive. Surgery may not repair

the damaged, and as such, may not provide pain relief (Brannon, 2018). Other alternative approaches can be considered regarding pain

management. For example, acupuncture is a treatment widely used in ancient Chinese medicine, and has been effective in managing lower back

pain for many individuals (Brannon, 2018).

Part C:

What is mind-body medicine? Please explain and use examples.

Mind-body medicine demonstrates a sentiment that the brain, mind, and body are interactive, connected, and thus emotional and physical

factors of health are connected. So, ignoring an aspect of health such as mental issues, will often lead to physical symptoms emerging. An

example of applying to mind-body approach to medicine, is through the practice of yoga. A fundamental aspect of yoga is the understanding

the body and mind and soul are connected and require a balance (Brannon, 2018). Through physical bodily poses and focused breathing,

relaxation and mental healing can occur. Another exampl