The Concept of Pain



TheConcept of Pain

According toVaajoki (2013), pain is an unpleasant sensory, cognitive, andemotional sensation that points to actual damages to the tissue orpotential harm. Pain, in this case, is seen as an entirely subjectiveissue that is affected by a person`s environment and othercomponents, which include gender, previous experiences, culture, age,and the patient`s attitude towards pain (Vaajoki, 2013). The feelingof agony is always a signal of physiological distress and failure toaddress any form of pain, however mild, may cause more damages. Alack of literature on this idea prompts the analysis. The primary aimof this notion study is to explore the subject and separate it fromother related concepts.

Usesof the Concept of Pain

Aydede (2009)asserts that the feeling of pain at a particular region may be anobjective medical deduction equated with an actual or potentialdamage to the tissue in the area. Despite the conventionality of thisview, it is wrong to fully conclude that pain or other sensoryfeelings in a particular point are conclusive evidence of damage to atissue whether actual or impending (Aydede, 2009). Since humanfeelings are subjective, it is prudent to understand the veracity andintensity of the sense of pain that is reported before making similarconclusions. Under the medical approach, pain is simply a tool thathelps in the diagnosis of other conditions that a patient may have.Under the sociological perception, the responses to pain not onlydepend on the sensation itself, but also on other social and culturalelements (Turk &amp Gatchel, 2013). An individual`s expectancy ofpain and its acceptance will form their attitude to pain itself. Thereaction will also depend on the emotional and behavioral state of aperson as well as their social backgrounds (Turk &amp Gatchel,2013).

DefiningAttributes of the Concept of Pain

Each conceptionhas some characteristics that it associates with and that help toexplain it. It is prudent to list many attributes that will assist indefining the notion of pain. A critical attribute to suffering isthat it is an unpleasant experience that arises from a physicalfeeling and may have either adverse or positive consequences to anindividual. Agony is also a unique feeling that each personexperiences differently due to various aspects (Warner, 2014).Nonetheless, the detection of torture may occur through an expressverbal statement made by a patient showing their sensation or througha look at certain behavioral concepts.

Moreover, anotherkey attribute of suffering is that it has physical and psychologicalresponses that healthcare workers can often use to detect it. It willalways manifest physically as a patient is likely to exhibit anunusual physical response when they feel it in any part of the body(Warner, 2014). As much as agony may have adverse effects on anindividual, it has its functions, like to warn of damages in thetissues or an impending damage at the point of pain. Furthermore, theresponse to suffering is influenced by a person`s personality,culture, environment, and their emotional state (King et al., 2011).This attribute explains why individuals perceive agony differentlythan others.

Constructinga Model Case on the Concept


Mary is a Britishwoman aged 55 who was diagnosed with breast cancer in the previousyear. The doctors had advised her on the particular medication thatshe was to be subjected to but her glands started to swell. A recentdiagnosis found that she had the BRCA-1 genetic mutation and sheneeded to remove one of her breasts in order to reduce the spread ofthe disease. When she was later admitted to hospital for the surgeryto be conducted on her and Nurse X was assigned to take care of her.On one morning the nurse found her leaning on one side of her bedwith her legs folded and she was holding her stomach as if in pain.Her eyes were almost closing when the nurse talked to her and sheseemed to be a bit tired. On the contrary, she was quite cooperativewith the nurse and stated that she was experiencing abdominal pains.Her heart rate was unusually high, prompting the nurse to give herpain medication.

After some fewhours, the nurse inquired about her health condition and she statedthat she was feeling better. She said that she always felt pain inthe abdomen on certain occasions, and it was one of the reasons thathad made her seek medical help before her cancer diagnosis. Shestated that their family had those genes, and her mother and sisterdied from a similar disease.

The state inwhich the nurse found the patient showed that the she was in greatpain as she had folded her legs, was leaning on one side and wastightly holding her stomach. Mary`s response was influenced by heremotional state and social forces. Since she was predisposed tocancer through her genes, she expected to go through the painfulexperience that she had seen with her mother and sister. Herexpectation of pain and previous experiences shaped her attitude tosuffering.


This case hassome of the attributes associated with the conviction but not all ofthem. It may also contain all the criteria but substantialdifferences may occur in one of them. In our borderline case, Nancyis a patient in a hospital and has been diagnosed with kidney failureand needs a transplant. On certain occasions, she experiences painand this is usually visible from her frail look and her physicalstate where she always held her chest tightly. Nevertheless, when thenurse asked her how she was doing, she always claimed that she wasfine. The patient was very religious and always prayed when she feltpain or when her family was around. Her response to the nurse wasalways that she was fine and that the she believed the Lord wouldcure her of her condition. According to the nurse`s knowledge andexperience showed that patients with kidney failures are likely tofeel pressure or pains in the chest. She later died after two weekswhen there was no proper diagnosis of some of the symptoms she wasexperiencing.

A look at thecase reveals that there were a lot of attributes to pain, such asvisible physical and psychological responses to agony. The painresponse was also influenced by social features, such as family,where she showed strength when her family was around. On the otherhand, her failure to express how she felt made it impossible to offermedication. The patient`s emotional state and social items, such asfamily and religion influenced her attitude to pain more than othercomponents.


Alex, a12-year-old boy was taken to hospital by her mother after havingabdominal pains and headaches. After thorough tests, it was foundthat he had tetanus and the treatment involved giving her aninjection to treat and immunize her. When he was taken for theinjection, the boy refused claiming that she doesn`t like injectionsand wanted to go home. The efforts to inject him forcefully werethwarted when he became violent to anyone that tried to hold him. Themother had to take him back and seek medication elsewhere despite himbeing in pain.

In this case, theattributes of pain are lacking in the scenario. The response to painwas mainly influenced by an emotional factor, fear, where the boy didnot want to get treatment for fear of painful injections. Thischaracterization may have arisen from his previous experiences wherehe associated treatment to pain (Zeltzer et al., 2012).


Mark is a 22-year old student who has recently been experiencing painin his right leg. He takes some time off sport to reduce the damagebut the pain persists. Upon going to the hospital a few weeks later,he explains his predicament and the tests done on him reveal that hetore one of his ligaments while running. He is admitted to hospitalbut is not impacted by any emotional or social since he has had a lotof previous experiences with the same. He is later discharged afterrecovering fully. Though this case contains all attributes of pain,it is invented and quite impossible to achieve in the real world.


Discomfort andsuffering are some of the relevant convictions of grief. Suffering isidentified as the emotional torture or psychological trouble that aperson may experience when they are undergoing a painful ordeal.Discomfort on the other hand is seen as mild suffering that may notcause enough irritation to an individual for them to seek medicalassistance. These ideas may be related to pain but do not mean thesame thing.

Antecedentsand Consequences

Riva et al.(2014) defines antecedents as some of the factors and incidents thathappen prior to the abstraction, and which influence the person`sperception on the matter. The precursors to agony include theenvironment and personal values. The environment, under the idea ofpain, is where the event will occur and might be related to the mindor body where an individual will feel pain. An individual`s attitudetowards an event that causes grief will largely determine how theycope with such an ordeal (Riva et al., 2014). A person`s value willalso play a significant role in determining how they relate to pain.The emotional state of a person, such as stress levels, alsodetermines if they are likely to experience more suffering.Socio-cultural aspects, such as gender, influences the perception ofpain where females are allowed to express their feelings more thanmales (King et al., 201l). The consequences of grief reaction areoften characterized as either voluntary or non-voluntary. Undervoluntary impacts, a person can control the effects of pain eitherthrough verbal or non-verbal communication, such as complaining,moaning, or crying (Schwaller &amp Fitzgerald, 2014). Involuntaryconsequences are those that a person cannot control, such as anincreased heart rate.


In summary, painis an unpleasant sensory, a cognitive and emotional sensation thatpoints to actual damages to the tissue or to potential harm. In themedical realm suffering helps to identify and diagnose illnesses. Alook at some of the cases reveals the key attributes of pain, such asthe physical and psychological responses to torture and the influenceof environmental, social, and cultural responses to grief. The paperexplores the idea of pain and the underlying features that affect it.


Aydede, M. (2009). Is feeling pain the perception of something?The Journal of Philosophy, 106(10), 531-567.

King, S., Chambers, C. T., Huguet, A., MacNevin, R. C., McGrath, P.J., Parker, L., &amp MacDonald, A. J. (2011). The epidemiology ofchronic pain in children and adolescents revisited: a systematicreview. Pain, 152(12), 2729-2738.

Riva, P., Wesselmann, E. D., Wirth, J. H., Carter-Sowell, A. R., &ampWilliams, K. D. (2014). When pain does not heal: The commonantecedents and consequences of chronic social and physical pain.Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 36(4), 329-346.

Schwaller, F., &amp Fitzgerald, M. (2014). The consequences of painin early life: Injury‐inducedplasticity in developing pain pathways. European journal ofneuroscience, 39(3), 344-352

Turk, D. C., &amp Gatchel, R. J. (Eds.). (2013). Psychologicalapproaches to pain management: a practitioner`s handbook.Guilford Publications.

Vaajoki, A. (2013). We have to take Pain Definition, PainManagement, and the Results of Non-Pharmacological Studies Seriously.Alternative &amp Integrative Medicine, 2013.

Warner, J. H. (2014). The therapeutic perspective: Medicalpractice, knowledge, and identity in America, 1820-1885.Princeton University Press.

Zeltzer, L., &amp Melamed, B. G. (2012). Children in pain:Clinical and research issues from a developmental perspective. J.P. Bush, &amp S. W. Harkins (Eds.): Springer Science &amp BusinessMedia.