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Science
LIVING WITH PAIN
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Geoff Watts explores the almost universal experience of living with pain and the different ways we react and cope with it.
Tuesdays 17 September - 1 October 2002, 9.00-9.30pm

Pain - we all know what it feels like, whether it's the short sharp shock of a graze to the knee, or the nagging throb of an arthritic joint. It's an unwelcome sensation, but it's part of being human. Those few born unable to feel pain - the condition is known as congenital analgesia - die young from injuries they never felt, their bodies scarred from head to toe.

Ian Knight lies in agony after a career ending tackle

1. The Agony and the Ecstasy

Geoff Watts looks at the range of experience of human pain and how scientists understand it. He meets the people for whom pain is part of their lives - from the elite sportsmen and women who work through it as they strive to achieve the best performance, to individuals who have chronic medical conditions that give them constant agony.
Kelly Holmes 800m runner
Geoff talks to the researchers who are studying what goes on in the nerves, muscles and joints to create the sensations of pain. And he explores the artistic and musical routes that we have chosen to help us come to terms with painful times.

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2. Acute Pain

Acute pain is a message. An unpleasant one - but indisputably essential. If something is wrong with our bodies we need to know - and with sufficient force to make sure we do something about it. The messages themselves, though, are anything but straightforward. Their strength is affected by what else is happening to us, by our state of mind, even by the time of day. The messages may dry up completely - at least for a while. They may even signal false information, trying to persuade us of an injury to a part of the body that no longer exists.

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Pain killers
3. The Nature of Pain

From back pain to cancer, much of the process of coping with pain is a mental one. Geoff Watts discovers how pain management clinics are using a huge variety of different techniques, including medication, art therapy and acupuncture, to help chronic sufferers live as normally as possible.

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