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Acute pain

pain that lasts only through the expected recovery period (less than six months), whether it has a sudden or slow onset and regardless of the intensity


when nonpainful stimuli (e.g., contact with linen, water, or wind) produce pain

Agonist analgesic

full agonists which are pure opioid drugs that bind tightly to mu receptor sites, producing maximum pain inhibition, an agonist effect

Agonist-antagonist analgesic

mixed agonists-antagonists drugs that can act like opioids and relieve pain (agonist effect) when given to a client who has not taken any pure opioids

Cancer Pain

may result from the direct effects of the disease and its treatment in individuals with cancer

Central Neuropathic pain

pain that results from malfunctioning nerves in the central nervous system (e.g., spinal cord injury pain, poststroke pain, or multiple sclerosis)

Chronic pain

prolonged pain, usually recurring or persisting over six months or longer, and interferes with functioning

Coanalgesic (Adjuvant)

A medication that is not classified as a pain medication, but has properties that may reduce pain alone or in combination with other analgesics, relieve other discomforts, potentiate the effect of pain medications, or reduce the pain medication's side effects.


surgical severing which obliterates pain and temperature sensation below the level of the spinothalamic portion of the anterolateral tract severed, and is usually done for pain in the legs and trunk


An unpleasant or abnormal sensation that can be either spontaneous or evoked.


a stroking massage technique


equal analgesia, is used when referring to the doses of various opioid analgesics that provide approximately the same pain relief

Fifth vital sign

pain assessment


extreme sensitivity to pain


Same as Hyperalgesia

Mild Pain

pain in the range of 1-3

Moderate Pain

pain in the range of 4-6

nerve block

A chemical interruption of a nerve pathway, effected by injecting a local anesthetic into the nerve. Injected drug blocks nerve pathways from the painful areas, thus stopping the transmission of pain impulses to the brain.


surgery in which peripheral or cranial nerves are interrupted to alleviate localized pain

Neuropathic pain

the result of a disturbance of the peripheral or central nervous system that results in pain that may or may not be associated with an ongoing tissue-damaging process


the physiologic processes related to pain perception


a pain receptor

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID)

drugs that relieve pain by acting on the peripheral nerve endings to inhibit the formation of the prostaglandins that tend to sensitize nerve to painful stimuli; have analgesic, anti-pyretic, and anti-inflammatory effect; include aspirin and ibuprofen


whatever the experiencing person says it is, existing whenever he (or she) says it does

Pain Management

the allevation of pain or a reduction in the pain to a level of comfort that is acceptable to the client. Pharmcologic and nonpharmacologic

Pain threshold

the least amount of pain stimulation a requires before feeling pain

Pain tolerance

the maximum amount and duration of pain that an individual is willing to endure

Patient-controlled analgesia (PCA)

a pain management technique that allows the client to take an active role in managing pain

Peripheral neuropathic pain

phantom limb, posterpetic neuralgia, carpal tunnel; follows damage/sensitization of peripheral nerves, (injury) pain (phantom limb pain, postherpetic neuralgia, carpal tunnel syndrome that follows damage and/or sensitization of peripheral nerves

Physiological pain

When an intact nervous system sends signals that tissues are damaged requiring treatment


any form of treatment (e.g., medication) that produces an effect in the client because of its intent rather than its chemical or physical properties

Preemptive analgesia

the administration of analgesics prior to an invasive or operative procedure in order to treat pain before it occurs

prevents the windup and sensitization that spreads, intensifies, and prolongs pain.

Referred pain

pain perceived to be in one area but whose source is another area


interruption of the anterior or posterior nerve root between the ganglion and the cord; generally performed on cervical nerve roots to alleviate pain of the head and neck

Severe Pain

pain in the range of 7-10

Somatic pain

pain that arises from ligaments, tendons, bones, blood vessels, and nerves

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS)

involves the insertion of a cable that allows the placement of an electrode directly on the spinal cord and is used with nonmalignant pain that has not been controlled with less invasive therapies


severence of the pathways of the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system; eliminates vasospasm, improves peripheral blood supply, and is effective in treating painful vascular disorders

Sympathetically maintained pain

pain that occurs with abnormal connections between pain fibers and the sympathetic nervous system (edema, temp, blood flow regulation)

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)

a noninvasive, nonanalgesic pain control technique that allows the client to assist in the management of acute and chronic pain

Visceral pain

results from stimulation of pain receptors in the abdominal cavity, cranium, and thorax (organs and/or hollow viscera.) Tends to be characterized by cramping, throbbing, pressing, or aching. Sometimes associated with feeling sick (nausea, vomiting, sweating), such as labor pain, angina pectoris, or irritable bowel.

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