Definitions

The viscera are the organs of the digestive, respiratory, urogenital, endocrine systems as well as the spleen, the heart and great vessels, the hollow and multilayered walled organs studied in splanchnology (Jain and Morrison 1986). Visceral pain is pain that results from the activation of nociceptors of organs in the thoracic, pelvic, or abdominal cavities (Bonica 1990c). It is felt as a poorly localized aching or cramping sensation that may be referred to the surface of the body. Often the pain originates as a midline sensation that can be referred to a somatic region. Once localized, the presented pain can remain unchanged or progress with hyperalgesia (an increased response to a painful stimulus). The diffuse localization of true visceral pain is probably due to the low density of visceral sensory innervation and extensive divergence of the visceral input within the central nervous system (CNS).

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