The pathophysiology of acute pain

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The method by which the body detects, interprets, and responds to painful stimulation is tantamount to an orchestral concert, with each individual instrument contributing a subtle yet important element composing the finished product. The polymodal peripheral receptors initiate unpleasant sensations that can be modulated in the dorsal horn and the anterior columns of the spinal cord before reaching the cerebral cortex. Despite similar neurological "wiring," pain sensations from the skin are not the same in character as those from visceral organs. A reaction of pain is based upon interpretation in specific cerebral centers and the resultant motor function. With the advent of functional MRI and PET scanners, the understanding of the cerebral interpretation of pain is expanding. Remember as well that emotional and psychological factors are crucial in pain perception, and are the starting points for any individual's perception of a painful circumstance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-284
Number of pages8
JournalEmergency Medicine Clinics of North America
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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