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?
Popping pills for pain relief is a pretty modern thing, but pain is a chronic part of human existence - so what did generations before do to calm their nerves? Here are some of the weird pain relief methods throughout history.
Surgeons and their patients are finding that virtual reality can relieve the pain and stress of operations – and it’s safer and cheaper than sedatives. Jo Marchant travels to a Mexican mountaintop village to visit a clinic with a difference.
Can virtual reality really soothe pain? Jo Marchant meets the doctors who say yes, and who hope this is a solution to the country consuming 80 per cent of the world’s opioid supply: the United States of America.
Renard, the Bond villiain in The World Is Not Enough, is unusual - he can’t feel pain. But according to new research, not only can scientists now explain painlessness, achieving it artificially might be just around the corner.