Pain and its Management in Animals
Mogoa, E G M
Mbithi, Peter Mulwa F
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Pain is a perception, an unpleasant experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. It is usually caused by mechanical, chemical or thermal stimulation of specialised pain receptors (nociceptors)in tissues. In routine veterinary practice, such acute insults causing intense stimulation encountered include tissue traurna.. including surgery, burns and fractures. As veterinary practitioners, we are ethically obliged to prevent pain and suffering where possible and alleviate it, should it occur, as it contributes to increased morbidity and mortality. In order to do this, we need to be able to assess. pain in animals and manage it appropriately. Pain assessment can be made based on anthropomorphism, behavioural responses of the patient and clinical signs. The behavioural and physiological responses that accompany pain such as vocalization, withdrawal reflex, guarding of the affected area and increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system are measurable. Pain control in animals can be achieved through limitation of nociceptor stimulation, interruption of peripheral transmission, inhibition of nociceptive transmission at the level of the spinal cord, modulation of brain pathways by systemic administration of analgesics or, through 'balanced' or 'multimodal' analgesia by simultaneous use of a number of the above strategies. Although the selection and techniques of administration of individual analgesic drugs vary, local and opioid analgesics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, tranquilizers and other combination therapies when used appropriately can control pain and alleviate suffering in animals experiencing pain. This paper looks at pain and its management in animals.