How Doctors Measure Pain.
The subjectivity of a pain descriptor is difficult to measure, simply due to the personal sense and vocabulary of the victim, quite apart from an individual’s level of tolerance for pain. Yet it is one of the most studied area in psychology in recent history, with a proliferation of theories as to its causation and sensing. This article looks at Melzack and Wall’s Gate Control Theory, probably the most widely accepted in modern psychology and medicine. In gist, the theory posits that pain stimulation is carried by small, slow fibers that enter the dorsal horn of the spinal cord; then other cells transmit the impulses from the spinal cord up to the brain. These fibers can have an impact on the smaller fibers that carry the pain stimulation. In some cases they can inhibit the communication of stimulation, while in other cases they can allow stimulation to be communicated into the central nervous system. In this way, the large fibers create a hypothetical “gate” that can open or close the system to pain stimulation. Apart from the theory, the article also explores attempts at assessing chronic pain and its treatment.
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