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Vet J. 2007 Sep;174(2):227-39. Epub 2007 Jun 5.

Pain mechanisms and their implication for the management of pain in farm and companion animals.

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Division of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, Royal School of Veterinary Studies, Summerhall, Edinburgh EH9 1QH, UK.


Over the last two decades there has been a dramatic increase in the literature relating to the mechanisms and management of pain in domestic animals. Understanding the mechanisms of pain is crucial for its effective management. This review highlights the current understanding of the neurophysiology of nociception and the plastic changes involved in chronic pain states. Additionally, we describe a range of novel molecules and pathways that offer opportunities for the development of mechanism-based analgesic therapies. Pain management in animals is limited by pain assessment which remains highly subjective, with clinicians relying on indirect measures of pain, using rating scales and (less frequently) quantifiable physiological and behavioural parameters. The need for a systematic approach which would assess different pain components is well justified. Species-specific issues on pain assessment and management in mammalian companion and farm animals are addressed in the later part of this review.

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