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What is Pain?
Pain is a general term that describes uncomfortable sensations in the body. Pain can range from mild discomfort to debilitating. It may feel like a sharp stab or dull ache. It may also be described as throbbing, pinching, stinging, burning, or soreness.
Visceral pain is a chronic and debilitating disorder of nociception (pain sensing) of the internal organs. Usually we cannot feel our own internal organs but people who suffer from visceral pain often feel them chronically, in a variety of diffuse, difficult to localize painful sensations. In many cases, there is no obvious underlying pathological cause of the pain. The condition is a serious reduction in quality of life for patients and has large socioeconomic costs associated with it. There is critical need for new analgesics acting through novel mechanisms of action to safely address chronic visceral pain. Patients may experience occasional visceral pains, often very intense in nature, without any evidence of structural, biochemical or histolopathologic reason for such symptoms.
Visceral pain is often grouped under functional gastrointestinal disorders and is characterized as a vague, diffuse, and poorly defined sensation in a variety of organs and body regions.
Regardless of specific organ of origin, the pain is usually perceived in the midline spanning anywhere from the lower abdomen up to the chest. In the early phases, the pain is perceived in the same general area and it has a temporal evolution, making the onset sensation insidious and difficult to identify.
Symptoms may also include nausea, sweating, vomitting, lack of appetite, and anxiety. Other emotional responses are common in visceral pain including anguish and an impending sense of doom.
Acute & Neuropathic Pain
Acute and neuropathic pain (ANP) is often the result of injury or infection and may progress into chronic pain in some situations. It is often defined as pain that lasts less than 3-6 months and is usually the result of direct tissue injury. The pain can be debillitating and difficult to manage with current pain-relieving therapies, which may be addictive or ineffective.
Some of the characteristic symptoms of ANP include burning, itching, diffuse or sharp sensations, and occasionally other debilitating sensory problems which may persist for up to 6 months.
Estimates of people that suffer from neuropathic pain or visceral pain vary widely due to the heterogenous nature of the conditions and on the method of identification.
While neuropathic pain is estimated to occur in about 1 in every 10 adults over the age of 30 years, up to 25% of people worldwide may experience chronic and/or intermittent visceral pain.