NCBI Bookshelf. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

National Research Council (US) Committee on Recognition and Alleviation of Pain in Laboratory Animals. Recognition and Alleviation of Pain in Laboratory Animals. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2009.

Cover of Recognition and Alleviation of Pain in Laboratory Animals

Recognition and Alleviation of Pain in Laboratory Animals.

Show details



The positive (i.e., preferred) and negative (i.e., avoided) states experienced by animals. Affect is a conscious experience (see consciousness). It is similar to the colloquial use of the term “emotion.”


Pain produced by normally nonnoxious stimuli (e.g., touch).


A drug or endogenous mediator that relieves/reduces pain without concomitant loss of consciousness (e.g., morphine). However, opioid analgesics, as well as most drugs used to relieve pain, have sedative-hypnotic properties at greater doses.


A drug that eliminates sensation, including the experience of pain; depending on its activity, it may or may not eliminate pain by inducing loss of consciousness (e.g., local anesthetic vs. barbiturate).

Animal welfare

In this report we use “welfare” to mean “well-being.”


Drugs that reduce anxiety, often used in combination with other drugs to manage pain.


Feeling, or the experienced state that accompanies pain and other sensations (and thus distinguishes pain from nociception). This report uses “awareness” and “consciousness” interchangeably.

Central sensitization

Increased excitability of central nervous system (CNS) neurons and consequent amplification of input initiated by sensitized nociceptors.


This term has a range of meanings; in this report it refers to the experience of sensation widely shared by most animals.


Increased sensitivity and response to a noxious stimulus enhanced by sensitization of peripheral nociceptors and central neurons (opposite is hypoalgesia).


Lack of appetite.


The central nervous system (CNS; the spinal cord and the brain).


The detection of a noxious event by nociceptors. Nociception represents the peripheral and central nervous system processing of information about the internal or external environment generated by nociceptor activation.

Nociceptor sensitization

Increased excitability and response of nociceptors produced by endogenous mediators (e.g., prostaglandins, protons).

Noxious stimulus and nociceptors

An event that damages or threatens to damage tissues and that activates specialized sensory nerve endings called nociceptors.

Operant conditioning

The use of positive and negative consequences to modify behavior through learning.


An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.

Pain descriptors
  1. Momentary pain: short-lasting, brief, transient (e.g., seconds) and usually of low intensity.
  2. Postprocedural/postsurgical pain: longer-lasting than momentary (hours to days to weeks), a consequence of tissue injury due to surgery or other procedures.
  3. Persistent pain: lasts for days to weeks such as encountered in studies that investigate pain (and caused by mechanisms other than postprocedural pain).
  4. Chronic pain: pain of long duration (i.e., days to weeks to months), typically associated with degenerative diseases, without relief, difficult to manage clinically.
Copyright © 2009, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK32651
PubReader format: click here to try


  • PubReader
  • Print View
  • Cite this Page
  • PDF version of this title (1.0M)

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...