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An Anatomy of Pain

How the Body and the Mind Experience and Endure Physical Suffering


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About The Book

An illuminating, authoritative, and in-depth examination of the fascinating science behind pain that “combines a career’s worth of expertise with a long history of pain treatment” (GQ)—from one of the internationally leading doctors in pain management.

Pain is a universal human experience, but we understand very little about the mechanisms behind it. We hurt ourselves, we feel pain, we seek help from a professional or learn to avoid certain behaviors that cause pain. But the story of what goes on in our body is far from simple. Even medical practitioners themselves often fail to grasp the complexities between our minds and bodies and how they interact when dealing with pain stimulus. Throughout history we’ve tried to prevent and mediate the effects of pain—which has only resulted in a highly medicated population and a booming opiates industry.

Written by a medical expert trained as an anesthesiologist, An Anatomy of Pain is the first book to clearly explain the current issues and complexities surrounding the treatment of pain and how society deals with those in pain, as well as how our bodies relate to pain. Common conception still equates pain with tissue damage but that is only a very small part of the story—the organ which produces pain is the brain. Case studies show that a woman who has undergone a c-section reports dramatically less pain than a patient who has had kidney stones removed in a similarly invasive operation. The soldier who drags himself or herself to safety after being shot deals with pain in a remarkably different way from someone suffering a similar injury on a street. The truth is that pain is a complex mix of nerve endings, psychological state, social preconceptions, and situational awareness.

Filled with case studies and medical history, this enlightening book offers a crash course in all aspects of pain, from chronic to acute, and walks us through the current landscape of pain treatments—from medication (including opioids) to electrical nerve stimulation. Whether it’s a mild ache or severe discomfort, we all encounter pain in our lives and “this splendid book—informative, empathic, and wise—about a universal experience will surely promote healing” (Booklist, starred review).

About The Author

Photograph Courtesy of the Author

Dr. Abdul-Ghaaliq Lalkhen has been working in pain-related areas—from anesthesiology to pain management—for over two decades. He is a member of the Faculty of Pain Medicine affiliated to the Royal College of Anesthetists and a Visiting Professor at Manchester Metropolitan University. He lives in Manchester, England.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (January 11, 2022)
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982161002

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Raves and Reviews

“Combines a career’s worth of expertise with a long history of pain treatment. For anyone concerned with pain treatment, or anyone who has struggled to manage pain of any kind, it’s an important read.” GQ

An Anatomy of Pain is as timely as it is important. What makes the book so prescient is the fact that Lalkhen understands exactly what is at stake. A life free from pain is a blessing while a life plagued by pain is a curse.” Scientific Inquirer

“[Lalkhen] fulfills his mission [to ‘explain pain in all its forms’] well, beginning with the anatomical mechanics of pain and a history of human relationships with pain, concluding with helpful prescriptions—including mindfulness—for changing our relationship to the way we suffer.” Mindful Magazine

“[Lalkhen] illuminates his specialty... [and] takes up pain as experienced by patients and dealt with by doctors. Readers [will find] a sensitive doctor who writes well about an ongoing epidemic.” Kirkus Reviews

“Fascinating.... At some point in our life, we all hurt. This splendid book—informative, empathic, and wise—about a universal experience will surely promote healing.” Booklist, starred review

“Provides appropriately detailed and understandable information while also offering suggestions practitioners should consider.” —Library Journal

“With insights both scientific and personal, Lalkhen’s study sheds light on a mysterious corner of physiology and medicine.” Publishers Weekly

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