Sickening, gruelling or frightful: how doctors measure pain | John Walsh

By: John Walsh | Sickening, gruelling or frightful: how doctors measure pain | John Walsh | Neuroscience | The Guardian

Suffering is difficult to describe and impossible to see. So how can doctors tell how much it hurts?

One night in May, my wife sat up in bed and said, “I’ve got this awful pain just here.” She prodded her abdomen and made a face. “It feels like something’s really wrong.” Woozily noting that it was 2am, I asked what kind of pain it was. “Like something’s biting into me and won’t stop,” she said.

“Hold on,” I said blearily, “help is at hand.” I brought her a couple of ibuprofen with some water, which she downed, clutching my hand and waiting for the ache to subside.

Some men may find it hard to imagine anything more agonising than toothache or a tennis injury

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