Serinelli, I., Soloperto, S., Lai, O. R. 2022. Pain and pain management in sea turtle and herpetological medicine: State of the art. Animals 12(6), 697.
In sea turtle rescue and rehabilitative medicine, many of the casualties suffer from occurrences that would be considered painful in other species; therefore, the use of analgesic drugs should be ethically mandatory to manage the pain and avoid its deleterious systemic effects to guarantee a rapid recovery and release. Nonetheless, pain assessment and management are particularly challenging in reptilians and chelonians. The available scientific literature demonstrates that, anatomically, biochemically, and physiologically, the central nervous system of reptiles and chelonians is to be considered functionally comparable to that of mammals albeit less sophisticated; therefore, reptiles can experience not only nociception but also “pain” in its definition of an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience. Hence, despite the necessity of appropriate pain management plans, the available literature on pain assessment and clinical efficacy of analgesic drugs currently in use (prevalently opioids and NSAIDs) is fragmented and suffers from some basic gaps or methodological bias that prevent a correct interpretation of the results. At present, the general understanding of the physiology of reptiles’ pain and the possibility of its reasonable treatment is still in its infancy, considering the enormous amount of information still needed, and the use of analgesic drugs is still anecdotal or dangerously inferred from other species.