If you were to spend a moment thinking about a time when you were unfortunate to have an accident i.e. a trip or fall, cut yourself while chopping vegetables, sprain a muscle, etc. what happens? You would probably feel an immediate pain which would then be followed by the longer lasting dull ache until it goes away.
Usually, pain is one of the most common reasons why we go for medical treatment and can be very hard to define as it is what we call a Subjective Experience and as far as I am aware there is no machine that can measure the degree of pain a person is experiencing.
"A complex experience consisting of a physiological (bodily) response to a noxious stimulus followed by an affective (emotional) response to that event. Pain is a warning mechanism that helps to protect an organism by influencing it to withdraw from harmful stimuli. It is primarily associated with injury or the threat of injury, to bodily tissues”.
So to keep it simple: pain is simply a warning signal to the brain that something is causing or may cause damage and you need to look into it. Pain perception is the way in which the painful stimulus is transmitted from the site of the stimulation (injury) to the central nervous system to the brain. This pain perception is termed nociception (from the Latin meaning “hurt”).
Our perception of pain can sometimes be affected by what we are doing at the time. For instance, a footballer who is so engrossed in his game may take many blows to his body but because his heightened state, any painful signals which would normally be sent to the brain are temporarily canceled out until the game has finished and he starts to calm down then suddenly the pain signals start their journey. For more about the process of how pain works look at Gate Control Theory by Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall.
Doctors will classify pain as Acute Pain which is caused by some form of injury to the body warning the brain of potential damage and requires action. It can develop slowly or quickly and last for just a few minutes or months and will subside as the injury heals.
Chronic Pain this is pain which will persist long after the trauma has healed, and sometimes can occur even in the absence of a trauma. This type of pain does not warn the body to respond and will usually last longer than six months.
Many people visiting the doctor for pain relief will be prescribed drugs for the treatment of their pain and these could be in the form of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: some of the side effects of these drugs are, gastritis, worsening of asthma and kidney damage.
These are effective painkillers for all types of pain including neuropathic pain. Morphine is the original drug of this class; the others include codeine, propoxyphene, and fentanyl. Some of the side effects of these drugs include addiction, respiratory depression, and constipation.
These are very potent anti-inflammatory drugs and they have a wide use in medicine for both anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects. Most commonly taken by mouth for the relief of arthritis. And can be administered by injection along with local anesthetics in arthritic joints and in the spinal canal to relieve back pain. In high doses given for more than a few days, they can have various effects including diabetes, osteoporosis and other damage to the bones like avascular necrosis to the femoral head.
Hypnosis is not appropriate or effective for all sufferers of pain; this should be considered par-for-the-course, as no treatment, chemical, physical, or psychological, has ever been proven to be 100% effective. Whatever treatment undertaken if it can help a sizable number of people, it is then considered effective. Because hypnosis has been shown to be effective in pain management in many different studies in many different situations, it should be considered as effective as other modalities.