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Overview of Pain

By John Markman, MD, Sri Kamesh Narasimhan, PhD

Pain is an unpleasant sensation signaling actual or possible injury.

Pain is the most common reason people visit their doctor.

Pain may be sharp or dull, intermittent or constant, or throbbing or steady. Sometimes pain is very difficult to describe. Pain may be felt at a single site or over a large area. The intensity of pain can vary from mild to intolerable.

People differ remarkably in their ability to tolerate pain. One person cannot tolerate the pain of a small cut or bruise, but another person can tolerate pain caused by a major accident or knife wound with little complaint. The ability to withstand pain varies according to mood, personality, and circumstance. In a moment of excitement during an athletic match, an athlete may not notice a severe bruise but is likely to be very aware of the pain after the match, particularly if the team lost.

Resources In This Article

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

  • Generic Name
    Select Brand Names
  • INDOCIN
  • SPRIX
  • No US brand name
  • TYLENOL
  • CYTOTEC
  • ADVIL, MOTRIN IB
  • PRILOSEC
  • TALWIN