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Claire Bloor
The Veterinary Nurse, Vol. 3, Iss. 8, 29 Oct 2012, pp 494 - 501

Pain in critical care patients is a frequent occurrence due to surgery, trauma, invasive monitoring, changing dressings, suctioning various fluids and prolonged immobilization. These varied sources of pain make pain in the critical patient one of the most challenging areas of clinical practice for human nurses, and the same is true for veterinary nurses. Pain is defined as an unpleasant sensory and somewhat emotional experience that is typically associated with tissue damage, or is described in terms of actual or potential tissue damage. The body's nociceptive system initially detects a noxious stimulus, such as heat or a surgical incision, and generates a physiological and behavioural response to the injury; this process can also occur following any form of neuroplastic change, even after a wound or injury is considered healed. Pain is a very complicated concept and there are many physiological processes involved, which can make it difficult to assess and understand in animal patients, especially where pain has developed and seems unrelated to any obvious or identifiable physical process or injury. Due to these difficulties in pain assessment in veterinary patients it is recommended to take a liberal approach to analgesic use for their benefit.

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