This article provides an overview of the physiological mechanisms of pain and the important pain pathways. We will discuss pain receptors, transmission of pain signals to the spinal cord and pain pathways within the spinal cord. We will also look at how pain can be modulated at different levels along the pathway. Finally we discuss different types of pain including visceral and neuropathic pain.
There are two main classifications of pain: the commonsensical sort that arises from damaged tissue (nociceptive pain), and the more exotic kind that comes from damage to the system that reports and interprets damage, the nervous system (neuropathic pain). This is the difference between engine trouble and trouble with that light on your dashboard that claims there’s engine trouble. Oddly, there is still no official …
The vast amount of research over the past decades has significantly added to our knowledge of phantom limb pain. Multiple factors including site of amputation or presence of pre-amputation pain have been found to have a positive correlation with the development of phantom limb pain. The paradigms of proposed mechanisms have shifted over the past years from the psychogenic theory to peripheral and central neural changes involving cortical reorganization. More recently, the role of mirror neurons in the brain has been proposed in the generation of phantom pain. A wide variety of treatment approaches have been employed, but mechanism-based specific treatment guidelines are yet to evolve. Phantom limb pain is considered a neuropathic pain, and most treatment recommendations are based on recommendations for neuropathic pain syndromes. Mirror therapy, a relatively recently proposed therapy for phantom limb pain, has mixed results in randomized controlled trials. Most successful treatment outcomes include multidisciplinary measures. This paper attempts to review and summarize recent research relative to the proposed mechanisms of and treatments for phantom limb pain.
Persistent or chronic pain is the primary reason people seek medical care, yet current therapies are either inadequate for certain types of pain or cause intolerable side effects. Recently, pain neurobiologists have identified a number of cellular and molecular processes that lead to the initiation and maintenance of pain. Understanding these underlying mechanisms has given significant promise for the development of more effective, more specific pain therapies in the near future.