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Pain Management Terms

Acute: Description for a condition that usually lasts for a short period of time, usually shorter than six months.

Addiction: A compulsive use of a substance even though the substance causes harm. Addiction is not defined by physical dependence or tolerance. Traits of addiction are loss of control, cravings, and adverse consequences resulting from use of a substance.

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Analgesic: A medication or treatment that relieves pain.

Central nervous system: The brain and spinal cord.

Chronic: Description for a condition that lasts for a long time, usually longer than six months.

Facet joint block: Procedure that is performed to determine whether a facet joint is a source of pain, or as a means of pain relief. Facet joints are located on the back of the spine, where one vertebra slightly overlaps another. These joints guide and restrict the spines movement.

Fibromyalgia: Chronic disorder that causes pain and stiffness throughout the tissues that support and move the bones and joints. Pain and localized tender points occur in the muscles, particularly those that support the neck, spine, shoulders, and hips. The disorder includes widespread pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and often depression.

Immune system: A complex system that normally protects the body from infections.

Inflammation: A reaction of tissues to injury or disease; inflammation is marked by swelling, redness, heat, and pain. In some cases, inflammation is not evident in chronic pain.

Nerve block: The injection of a nerve-numbing substance into a group of nerves.

Neuropathic: A description for a condition that is nerve-related.

NSAIDs: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen used to treat pain and inflammation.

Opioids: Narcotic pain relievers.

Palliative care: Also called comfort care, palliative care is meant to offer relief to chronically or terminally ill people through pain management and symptom management.

Physical dependence: A condition in which there are withdrawal symptoms if a person suddenly stops using a substance.

Prostaglandins: Hormone-like substances best known for inducing uterine contractions. Prostaglandins also serve many other functions, such as controlling inflammation and blood flow.

Scleroderma: An autoimmune disease that is associated with thickening or hardening of the skin and connective tissue.

Stellate ganglion block: A procedure to relieve pain by blocking the sympathetic nerve chain that supplies the head, neck, chest, and arms.

Sympathetic nerve chain: A network of nerves extending the length of the spine. These nerves control some of the involuntary functions of the body, such as opening and narrowing blood vessels.

Tolerance: This condition occurs when the initial dose of a substance loses its effectiveness over time.

Withdrawal: The physiological and mental readjustment that occurs after a person discontinues use of an addictive substance. There are varying degrees of withdrawal.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on August 29, 2015

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