The Problem of Pain

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Abstract

Pain problems, especially posttraumatic headache, are very common following head trauma. Pain may be the most significant problem, more disabling than any brain or other injuries, and interfering with aspects of cognition or other function. However, posttraumatic headache and most other chronic posttraumatic pain problems remain poorly understood. This article reviews fundamental issues that should be considered in understanding the nature of chronic pain including the distinction between acute and chronic pain; neurobiological distinctions between the lateral and medial pain system; nociceptive versus neuropathic or other central pain; sensitization effects; the widely accepted view of chronic pain as a multidimensional subjective experience involving sensory, motivational-affective and cognitive-behavioral components; the problem of mind-body dualism; the role of psychosocial factors in the onset, maintenance, exacerbation or severity of pain; plus issues of response bias and malingering.

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