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We may have learnt to tame it with drugs, but pain is one of the certainties of human existence. It can be both physical and emotional, ranging from a searing torment to a mild soreness. But what exactly is it, what function does it serve, and how can we really know how much pain someone is in? Find out in the new issue of BBC Focus magazine.

Also in this issue

  • Conservative peer Matt Ridley thinks that innovation will stop resources from running out.
  • Revolutionary technology could give police new tools to stop criminals in their tracks.
  • The RV Investigator has been finding some creepy creatures in the ocean’s inky depths…
  • Could the weird theory of ‘panpsychism’ help explain consciousness?
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How much does it hurt?

Aching, throbbing, searing, excruciating – pain is difficult to describe and impossible to see. So how can doctors measure it? John Walsh finds out about new ways of assessing the agony.