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Common Pain Terminology Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Common Pain Terminology

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Acute pain: a feeling of physical distress or discomfort that is protec­tive, has an identi­fiable cause, is of short duration (usually resolving with healing), and involves little tissue damage
Addiction: referring to drug addiction: a dependence phenomenon charac­terized by impaired control over drug use, compulsive use, continued use despite harm, and craving
Adjuvant analgesia: a drug primarily used to treat something other than pain but also enhances pain relief
Altern­ative therapies: unconv­ent­ional treatment approaches used instead of conven­tional medical care
Analgesia: absence of sensit­ivity to pain
Analgesic:substance used as a pain reliever; a drug that acts to reduce pain, including over-t­he-­counter drugs such as aspirin as well as those available by prescr­iption only
Analgesic ceiling: the dose of a particular drug beyond which additional amounts of the same drug do not increase the analgesic effect
Breakt­hrough pain: a flaring of moderate to severe pain despite therap­eutic doses of analgesics
Chronic pain: a feeling of physical distress or discomfort that persists over a long period of time and does not always have an identi­fiable cause
Compli­mentary therapies: unconv­ent­ional treatment approaches used in addition to or to enhance conven­tional medical care
Dermatome: area of skin supplied with afferent nerve fibers from a single posterior spinal root
Efficacy: the ability of a drug to achieve its desired effect
Epidural anesth­esia: medication injected via a catheter into the space between the dura mater and the lining of the spinal canal to create a regional nerve block; also called spinal anesthesia
Nocice­ptor: a peripheral sensory receptor for pain, stimulated by various types of tissue injury
Narcotic: an outdated umbrella term that has been used to refer to opioids, controlled substa­nces, illicit drugs, central nervous system depres­sants, strong analge­sics, and drugs capable of causing physical depend­ence; opioid is the preferred term for the family of potent pharma­cologic analgesics commonly referred to as narcotics
Neurop­athic pain: a type of pain usually felt as burning or tingling and resulting from direct stimul­ation of nerve tissue of the peripheral or central nervous system
Nonste­roidal anti-i­nfl­amm­atory drug (NSAID): any of a group of drugs that reduce pain, fever, and swelling (infla­mma­tion), including aspirin.
Opioid: one of a group of analgesics that act on higher centers of the brain and spinal cord to modify percep­tions of moderate to severe pain

Terms continued

Pain scale: assessment tool used to rate the severity of pain
Pain threshold: the point at which a person feels pain
Pain tolerance: the level of pain a person is willing to endure
Parest­hesia: an abnormal burning, prickling, tingling, or numbing sensation or hypers­ens­itivity most often felt in the extrem­ities and typically associated with neurop­athic pain
Patien­t-c­ont­rolled analgesia (PCA): a drug delivery system that uses a comput­erized pump with a button the patient can press to deliver a dose of an analgesic through an intrav­enous catheter
Physical depend­ence: an adaptive state charac­terized by a drug class-­spe­cific withdrawal syndrome induced with abrupt cessation, rapid dose reduction, or admini­str­ation of an antagonist
Placebo: a pharma­col­ogi­cally inert substance, such as a sugar pill or an injection of sterile water, given with the implic­ation of effective treatment
Progre­ssive muscle relaxa­tion: a system­atic, stepwise approach to releasing tension in major muscle groups
Somatic pain: generally well-l­oca­lized pain that results from activation of peripheral pain receptors without injury to the peripheral nerve or central nervous system, such as muscul­osk­eletal pain
spinal anesth­esia:** medication injected via a catheter into the space between the dura mater and the lining of the spinal canal to create a regional nerve block; also called epidural anesthesia
Titration: the process of gradually adjusting the dose of a medication until the desired effect is achieved
Tolerance: an adaptive state charac­terized by a decreasing response to repeated constant doses of a drug or the need for increasing doses to maintain a constant response
transm­iss­ion:** spreading of the pain “message” across the various nerve fibers linking the pain impulse to the brain
Visceral pain: pain that results from activating the pain receptors of organs in the thoracic, pelvic, or abdominal cavities and is felt as a genera­lized aching or cramping sensation sometimes referred to the surface of the body
Visual analog scale: a straight line with the left end of the line repres­enting no pain and the right end of the line repres­enting the worst pain, with patients marking the place on the line where they think their pain falls
Wong-Baker FACES scale: a pain assessment tool that asks patients (often children) to select one of several faces indicating expres­sions that convey a range from no pain through the worst pain