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Health Psychology - theories of pain, pain assessment and pain management.

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Nicola Caufield Group 1 Psychology What is pain? Definition:- Pain is an unpleasant sensation which can range from mild, localized discomfort to agony (MedicineNet, 2000). People interpret pain through previous experiences and it causes emotional responses such as feelings of irritation, anger and depression. pain is also associated with tissue damage, if a person cuts themselves they will feel pain as the body has experienced damage. Acute and chronic pain:- Physical pain can usually be placed in one of two basic forms: - acute and chronic. Tissue injury, inflammation and disease are all causes of acute pain; the pain is immediate and can be diagnosed and treated, whereas chronic pain is continuous and lasts longer than normal healing time. With chronic pain the pain can be mild or severe and can last for anything from months to a lifetime the cause of the pain is also not always evident. With acute pain a 'warning' message is being sent to highlight the occurrence of damage to body tissue. This then allows the sufferer to take action for example if a person is running and they suddenly get a pain in their ankle this would indicate the need for them to stop and rest, get medical advice or take medication. ...read more.


Behavioural assessments are sometimes necessary in older people and people that are unable to talk. There are a couple of tools that can be used to assess pain in these individuals which are; the Abbey tool and the Doloplus 2. The Abbey tool was positively reviewed by Herr et el, 2004 for being quick to use and easy to follow although it was criticised as more testing is needed in order to find how reliable it is. As the Doloplus 2 has not been tested in English speaking countries it was criticised although Herr et el, 2004 has described it as being 'a comprehensive tool based on sound assumptions of the multidimensionality of pain'. Beecher (1956) observed soldiers' and civilians' request for pain relief in hospital during the Second World War and reported that although soldiers and civilians showed the same degree of injury, the soldiers requested less medication (Naidoo, J and Wills, J. 2001). This suggests that cognitive processes play a major part in the reflection of pain on individuals, for example the soldiers saw the pain as positive as they were out of the war whereas the civilians were losing money being off work therefore the pain had a negative impact on them. ...read more.


This would help them to lose weight and also to relieve pain. Some people may struggle with dieting and it may not necessarily relieve any pain although there would be other benefits to their health. The cognitive approach puts emphasis on the thought processes that are linked to pain experiences. There are a few cognitive methods which can help with pain management one of these being refocusing attention away from the pain for example if a person falls and bangs their knee, thinking about the pain is likely to make the pain feel worse whereas concentrating on an activity may help to reduce the level of pain being felt, of course this depends on the severity of injury that has occurred. Having described the different approaches to pain management I feel that by combining methods the sufferer would benefit more and recover faster. For example once the initial pain assessment has been done if the professional was to prescribe medication such as aspirin for a sprained ankle, then suggests for the pain sufferer to rest their ankle for a few days as well as refocusing their attention away from the injury they are more likely to manage pain more effectively therefore reducing healing time. ...read more.

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