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What is pain?

One of the tactics most often used by the folk who promote vegetarianism is to show us video of animals being killed for their meat. To make their point, they usually pick images showing the animals in pain. This is most obvious because they are usually thrashing around, making loud noises and trying desperately to escape their death. Often these pictures are disturbing. We don’t like to be reminded of the necessary cruelty to keep us supplied with food. Then, of course, the farmers come back into the debate with the line these pictures are the exception not the rule. They aim to make us feel better by confirming most animals are killed quickly, efficiently and without undue pain. No one likes to be in pain.

Now we come to the definitions. Pain is an unpleasant sensation. When we feel it, we immediately react by trying to avoid the cause. This has been one of the most successful of the survival characteristics that has enabled humans to climb to the top of the food chain. The system for transmitting the messages is effectively instantaneous. Take as an example the speed of reaction if we find a hand too close to fire. In that fraction of a second we feel the heat rising, we are already moving the hand away. This is pretty amazing. Not only is it fast, but it’s also very precise, telling your brain exactly where the potential or actual problem is and triggering movement before you are conscious of it. If this was all it did, we would be as happy as clams (although why clams should be so happy has always been a mystery). But the sad fact of life is that pain is rather more than a warning system. The unpleasant sensations continue even though we might have done everything in our power to treat the problem. There’s no convenient way of shutting it off other than by using a drug.

Needless to say, the world has been in search of a reliable painkiller from the dawn of time. Once we realized the pain was a problem in its own right, we were trying every possible plant and root to find the best way of making it go away. And this was a remarkable success. We found a wide range of different powders and potions that would make even the most severe injuries seem trivial. Reducing the dosage to avoid death (many are poisonous), the remaining problem has always been the addictive nature of most powerful drugs. Put simply, if you are in serious pain, getting welcome relief from a drug tends to make you dependent on it.

This psychological dependence can come on you fast – far more rapidly than the physical dependence and just as difficult to control. This is the advantage of Ultram. This has much of the painkilling power of the opiates, but is nowhere near as addictive. The advantages are clear. In the range of moderate to severe pain, you can get relief with less risk. This is not to say Ultram is not addictive. Psychological dependence can come at any real level of pain, no matter what the drug. But so long as you use the drug at the dosages prescribed and for mo more than the time indicated, it’s safe and effective.