Pain – Ache – anxiety

Asclepius Hygeia - Marble from Thermi ThessalonikisThere is no universally accepted perception of pain throughout the ages. Each individual judges pain and evaluates it with his/her own system of values. There is also no individual who has not experienced pain at some point in his/her life.

In the time of Homer, Pain and Algea were believed to be the children of Erida, who harass humans and sometimes gods. However, as pain is an ancient biological phenomenon, so is the quest for ways to overcome it.

There are many words that describe pain  including ache, hurt, affliction, agony, throb, pang, and specific pains such as neuralgia, headache, migraine, neck pain, sore throat, toothache, bellyache, colic, hip pain, back pain, gout, angina, childbirth pain etc. All these terms have one point in common: they provoke discomfort and unpleasant emotions in the individuals who experience them. This is despite the fact that pain has evolved over millions of years as a mechanism beneficial to the survival of living organisms – in order to help them react in time to situations that damage the body or involve the risk of death.

A large epidemiological study (Breivik H. et al, 2006 University of Oslo) showed that 19% of the adult population of Europe suffers from chronic pain. These individuals were found to experience serious consequences in their social and professional life. The most common source of chronic pain is musculoskeletal disorders while, according to another study, back pain is the most common reason for visiting the doctor. In addition, 20% of patients with chronic pain experience severe depression, while at the same time, a substantial increase in the consumption of analgesics (painkillers) has been recorded. Finally, only a minority of the population is treated by doctors who are specialized in treating pain, and only half of these patients receive appropriate treatment. Such inadequate pain treatment creates the impression in the patient that the doctor is not interested enough or is unable to succeed, thus, undermining the patient's confidence in the treatment. Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to say that also in Greece a large percentage of the population live with pain.

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