December 20, 1985

Textbook of Pain

Author Affiliations

Northwestern University Medical School Chicago


edited by Patrick D. Wall and Ronald Melzack, 866 pp, with illus, $105, New York, Churchill Livingstone Inc, 1984.

JAMA. 1985;254(23):3375. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360230107040

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This book, with 79 chapters written by 102 contributors, has three parts: basic science related to pain, clinical conditions with pain, and therapy. The chapters on basic aspects are all uniformly good, and most are excellent. The discussions are well written, succinct, and substantially documented. Written mostly by basic scientists, the book maintains the interest of the clinician reader because the clinical relevance of the discussion is pointed out.

"Experts" on pain may learn a few things. These include the dual action (analgesia and pain-threshold reduction) of substance P, the reasons to doubt that pain is the only result of C-fiber action, and the subdivision of lamina II into an outer (IIo) and an inner (IIi) layer. The subdivision of lamina II is to understand better the analgesia-related circuitry within the dorsal horn; Hi responds only to innocuous light brush while IIo contains specialized nociceptive cells that respond to mechanical