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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Tariq M. Malik, MD (University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine)
Description: This is much like a biography of pain. It describes systematically, starting from the periphery, i.e. receptors to the brain, what progress has been made in the comprehension of pain sensation in terms of physiology, pharmacology, and anatomy.
Purpose: The book is part of 30-year celebration of the International Society for the Study of Pain (IAPS). The book enumerates different landmarks in the understanding of pain. It shows how much progress has been made in just 30 years, from knowing very little to knowing a lot about the physiology and pharmacology of pain. The mission of IAPS is a worthy one and this book is written proof of the ongoing success of that mission.
Audience: This book is specifically meant for those who have an interest in pain. The target audience includes physicians who deal with pain either at a basic level or at a clinical level, whatever their primary specialty may be. Every chapter has been written by a person who is an authority in his field.
Features: This is a story of developments in the field of pain from 1975 to 2005 and is a very good review of pain physiology and pathophysiology. It starts with basic science updates of information we know about pain receptors and different molecules involved in pain sensation at the periphery. The next few chapters deal with pain pathways leading to the spinal cord and pain modulation in the spinal cord as well as the role of descending pain pathways. This is followed by few chapters on pain pharmacology. The book also deals with different clinical pain syndromes, including neuropathic pain, orofacial pain, back pain, and neck pain and discusses briefly the pathophysiology and management based on the data as we know it in 2005. Since it's a huge subject, the editors and authors have done a good job in describing different topics very succinctly. The references provided at the end of every chapter make up for any lack of details that readers may desire. The book is very handy in providing a refresher course on pain. The emphasis is more on the understanding of pain than treating pain. In describing the physiology of different pain conditions, the book assumes a certain level of knowledge of pain receptors and pathways.
Assessment: This is a valuable addition to the field of pain. There is no book out there like this. By comparing what we knew in 1975 with what we know now, and at times describing on a timeline when different developments took place, this book most certainly would improve a reader's understanding of pain. The book is a quick read.