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Pain is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli, such as stubbing a toe, burning a finger, putting alcohol on a cut, and bumping the "funny bone".<ref> The examples represent respectively the three classes of nociceptive pain - mechanical, thermal and chemical - and neuropathic pain.</ref> Because it is a complex, subjective phenomenon, defining pain has been a challenge. The International Association for the Study of Pain's widely used definition states: "Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage."<ref name = "IASPdef">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }} Derived from Bonica JJ. The need of a taxonomy. Pain. 1979;6(3):247–8. doi:10.1016/0304-3959(79)90046-0. PMID 460931.</ref>

Pain motivates the individual to withdraw from damaging situations, to protect a damaged body part while it heals, and to avoid similar experiences in the future.<ref name= Lynn1984>Lynn B. Cutaneous nociceptors. In: Winlow W, Holden AV. The neurobiology of pain: Symposium of the Northern Neurobiology Group, held at Leeds on 18 April 1983. Manchester: Manchester University Press; 1984. ISBN 0-7190-0996-0. p. 106.</ref> Most pain resolves promptly once the painful stimulus is removed and the body has healed, but it may persist despite removal of the stimulus and apparent healing of the body. Sometimes pain arises in the absence of any detectable stimulus, damage or disease.<ref name="Raj_2007">Raj PP. Taxonomy and classification of pain. In: Niv D, Kreitler S, Diego B, Lamberto A. The Handbook of Chronic Pain. Nova Biomedical Books; 2007. ISBN 1-60021-044-9.</ref>

Pain is the most common reason for physician consultation in most developed countries.<ref name="painreview">{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref name="Turk & Dennis 2004">Turk DC, Dworkin RH. What should be the core outcomes in chronic pain clinical trials?. Arthritis Res. Ther.. 2004;6(4):151–4. doi:10.1186/ar1196. PMID 15225358.</ref> It is a major symptom in many medical conditions, and can significantly interfere with a person's quality of life and general functioning.<ref name= Breivik2008>Breivik H, Borchgrevink PC, Allen SM, Rosseland LA, Romundstad L, Hals EK, Kvarstein G, Stubhaug A. Assessment of pain. Br J Anaesth. 2008;101(1):17–24. doi:10.1093/bja/aen103. PMID 18487245.</ref> Psychological factors such as social support, hypnotic suggestion, excitement, or distraction can significantly modulate pain's intensity or unpleasantness.<ref name="isbn1-84169-424-X">Eisenberger NI, Lieberman M. Why it hurts to be left out: The neurocognitive overlap between physical and social pain. In: Williams KD. The Social Outcast: Ostracism, Social Exclusion, Rejection, & Bullying (Sydney Symposium of Social Psychology). East Sussex: Psychology Press; 2005. ISBN 1-84169-424-X. p. 210.</ref><ref name="Melzack_1968">Melzack R & Casey KL. Sensory, motivational and central control determinants of chronic pain: A new conceptual model. In: Kenshalo DR. The skin senses: Proceedings of the first International Symposium on the Skin Senses, held at the Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. p. 432.</ref> In some arguments put forth in physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia debates, pain has been used as an argument to permit terminally ill patients to end their lives.<ref>Euthanasia and Law in the Netherlands - Page 209, Heleen Weyers - 1998</ref>


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