Summary of How Much Does It Hurt?

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After his wife went through a health episode that involved excruciating pain, seasoned journalist John Walsh became curious about how doctor assess and treat a sensation as complex and subjective as a patient’s pain. Walsh presents the fundamentals of a thriving new field of inquiry, where researchers – who come across as genuinely concerned about pain patients – are developing tools to measure pain, using brain scans to understand its origins and employing tactics that trick the brain into ignoring unhelpful pain messages. getAbstract recommends this article to anyone living with pain and others interested in a well-researched, well-written overview of cutting-edge pain science.


About the Author

John Walsh is a prolific journalist and published author. He has been editor of The Independent Magazine, literary editor of the Sunday Times and features editor of the London Evening Standard.



Since the 1970s, doctors have used numerical scales to measure pain. Unfortunately, these require the patient to guess what maximum pain feels like. Pain can also be unpredictable – a trapped nerve or small surgical scar can cause severe pain to a large area. Dr. Adnan Al-Kaisy, who heads up the Pain Management and Neuromodulation Center at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, points out that stressful daily events can exacerbate pain and that pain affects many different areas of life, so doctors need more than just a number. He is working with South...

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