Glossary of Terms

ACTH - adrenocorticotrophic hormone is produced in the anterior pituitary gland and is released in response to CRH (corticotrophic releasing hormone) from the hypothalamus. ACTH controls cortisol production and release from the adrenal gland (cortex). (See any Physiology textbook e.g. Schmidt and Thews 1989).

Abduction is a jargon term used to describe a walking gait during which the limbs are placed on the ground towards the midline of the animal. The hind or fore-feet are placed one in front of the other causing the animal to bear weight on the outside of the foot (lateral digit in ruminants). Abduction is seen when the medial (inside) digit has a painful lesion.

Adduction is a jargon term used to describe a walking gait during which the limbs are placed on the ground further away than normal from the midline of the animal.  When the lateral digit is damaged the painful limb is outside the normal track.

Affective component the emotional consequences of pain.

Afferent pathways conduct nervous activity to the spinal cord and brain.

Agonist a pharmacological term referring to a substance that activates membrane receptors, producing a cellular response.

Antagonist a pharmacological term referring to a substance that inactivates membrane receptors, inhibiting a cellular response.

Allodynia pain caused by a normally non-painful stimulus e.g. soft brush.

Anaesthetic a substance that blocks sensation e.g. a local anaesthetic stops nociceptive activity from reaching the brain or a general anaesthetic stops the brain registering sensations.

Analgesic a substance that alleviates or eliminates pain.

Anti-inflammatory drugs are substances that act to reduce / prevent inflammatory responses such as swelling, redness and pain.

AVTRW - Association of Veterinary Teachers and Research Workers.

Behaviour describes an animal's posture, actions, activity and can include various levels of detail such as: muscle tone or contraction, the position and movement of parts of the body, movement of the whole animal and interaction of the animal with its environment or with other animals.

Burdizzo is a bloodless castrator developed in the early 20th century for castrating lambs and calves.  The instrument is used to crush the scrotal cord, without cutting the skin, (Hosie et al 1996) so reducing the chance of infection.

BVAAWF British Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Fund

Chronic pain  How long pain must occur before it becomes chronic is disputed - six months is a time used for some types of human pain.

CLIVE Computer-aided Learning in Veterinary Education.

CSF Cerebro-spinal fluid

CNS  Central Nervous System

DEFRA Department of the Environment, Fishing and Rural Affairs

Endocrine glands Glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream.

Endorphins are opioid peptides produced in the animal and act on the same receptors as opiate drugs.

Homeostasis The co-ordinated control of physiological regulatory processes that restore and maintain normal body equilibria.

Hyperalgesia increased sensitivity to a painful stimulus.  This condition is frequently associated with inflammatory conditions.

Hypoalgesia decreased sensitivity to a painful stimulus.

HPA axis Hypothalamo-Pituitary-Adrenal axis is the system responsible for the production of corticosteroid (stress) hormones.

Neuron the basic cellular building block of the nervous system, transmitting electrical information in the body.  Neurons differ in size, shape and the  chemicals released at their terminals.  These chemicals are called neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitters chemicals, released by neurons at their terminals, that act on other neurons.

Nociception registration, transmission and processing of noxious stimuli by the nervous system.

Nociceptors are those receptors which respond to damaging or potentially damaging stimuli e.g. hot and cold temperatures.

Nociceptive stimuli are damaging or potentially damaging, and in humans are described as painful.

NSAIDs - non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Pilo-erection hairs of the animal coat standing up

Quidding when food, after chewing, is dropped from the mouth.

Referred pain is when an internal organ is damaged and the pain is located on a distant part of the body surface e.g. heart attack patients feel pain down the inside of the left arm.

SEERAD Scottish Executive for the Environment and Rural Affairs Department

Short scrotum castration involves pushing the testes into the inguinal canal and removing the scrotal sac with a rubber ring. This method is practiced by 40% of New Zealand farmers (Tarbourton et al 2002).

Stress: may be considered to be the state an animal is in when adaptive responses demand re-distribution of resources and increases in energy expenditure. Causes of stress are stressors and pain is considered a stressor.

'Sub-acute' pain is a clinical term describing pain, occurring after the initial sharp insult of an injury and which may continue during the healing process. in lots of places

Synapses provide functional links between neurons.  Electrical activity of one neuron affects the activity of another by the release of chemicals (neurotransmitters) at their synapses.

UFAW Universities Federation for Animal Welfare

Validation provides the evidence that a method is assessing the parameter of interest and not something else.

Visceral pain is associated with damage to the internal organs e.g. heart, lungs, liver, bladder, kidney, spleen, alimentary canal and reproductive organs.


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                                            Revised: 20-10-08