Glossary of Chronic Pain Terms by Clearing

Glossary of Chronic Pain Terms

The Clearing Team
The Clearing Team

A

Acute pain

A sudden, sharp barrage of pain, generally associated with an injury or illness.

Analgesic

A medication that relieves pain by various mechanisms.

Anti-inflammatory medication

A class of medications that reduces swelling and inflammation in the body.

Arthritis

A condition characterized by inflammation in one or more joints, causing pain and stiffness that can worsen with age.

Assistive devices

Accessories like canes, walkers, wheelchairs, crutches and prosthetics designed to improve mobility for the temporarily or permanently disabled.

Autoimmune disease

A category of medical conditions characterized by the immune system mistakenly attacking the body rather than an infection or illness.

B

Behavioral health

The connection between daily habits and one’s mental and physical well-being.

Bursitis

A condition characterized by inflammation of the fluid-filled pads (bursae) that act as cushions in the joints, which causes pain, swelling and stiffness.

C

Carpal tunnel syndrome

A common nerve injury happening when the carpal tunnel in the wrist narrows after repeated use.

CBD

A non-psychoactive chemical substance called Cannabidiol, extracted and purified from specific cannabis strains.

Chemical dependence

An addiction; a physical dependence wherein the body cannot function properly without a particular substance, which can be highly uncomfortable and painful to cure, and often requires drug rehabilitation to restore ordinary bodily functioning (e.g., an alcoholic suffering from a failing, diseased liver).

Chronic pain

Ongoing, persistent, long-term pain that lasts longer than three to six months.

Cohort

A word describing a particular group of people who usually share a commonality such as age or another quality (e.g. the Millennial cohort vs. the Baby Boomer cohort).

Compression fracture

A broken or damaged vertebra, which often results from untreated osteoporosis.

Cyclobenzaprine

A drug used to relax and soothe muscles.

D

Diclofenac

A drug with nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory effects, typically prescribed to treat the pain, inflammation, and joint swelling associated with many forms of arthritis.

Disc

Spongy tissue that rests between vertebrae to keep the spine upright and stable. Injured discs can sometimes produce pain symptoms.

E

Endocannabinoid system

Nerve receptors located throughout the body that receive stimulation from the hundreds of naturally occurring cannabinoids that bear a resemblance to many of the compounds in cannabis. 

F

Fibromyalgia

A musculoskeletal condition characterized by widespread, generalized pain throughout the body, which can be associated with symptoms of  insomnia, chronic fatigue and infrequent memory problems.

H

Herniated disc

An injury that happens when the disc between two vertebrae bulges, ruptures, or slips out of place, which may or may not cause pain. 

HIPAA

An acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. It stipulates how personally identifiable information maintained by the healthcare and healthcare insurance industries should be protected from fraud and theft.

I

Intractable

Something persistent and hard-to-control that typically comes with detrimental, long-term consequences (e.g. chronic pain).

L

Laser therapy

An alternative treatment which may be used to try to reduce chronic pain symptoms.

M

Misinformation

Erroneous, false information about a specific topic, which is persistent and widespread despite hard data and other evidence to the contrary.

Multimodal treatments

A combination of two distinct courses of treatment (e.g. using both physical therapy and medications to treat the same condition).

Musculoskeletal injuries

A group of conditions that involves muscles tissues, cartilage and joints.

N

Neuropathy

A condition involving damaged nerves, often experienced as a burning, tingling sensation.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Nonsteroidal drugs that reduce pain, decrease fever, and decrease inflammation.

Nutraceuticals

A supplement derived from certain foods, which supports general health (e.g., dietary fibers or probiotic-based products).

O

Opioid

Highly potent medications with high abuse potential  that are sometimes indicated to relieve moderate to severe pain after an acute injury, post operatively or to treat pain associated with cancer. Opioids act by binding to opioid receptors in the body.

Opioid-free treatments

A collection of highly effective medical interventions for chronic pain that do not involve the use of prescription opioids. 

Osteoarthritis

The most common form of arthritis,referring to progressive wear and tear on the joints over time.

Over-the-counter medications

Drugs that do not require a physician’s prescription and can be purchased at common stores or pharmacies. 

P

Physical therapy

Also known by the abbreviation PT, physical therapy is a treatment method designed to help improve or restore function

Physiological

Relating to how body parts function, interact, and support each other when healthy (e.g., physiological research on bone density in elderly cohorts).

Pinched nerve

An injury involving a single nerve or collection of nerves, typically resulting from compression or overuse.

Prescription medication

A drug a physician must approve before you can purchase it from a pharmacy, which includes specific daily instructions for its use.

R

Randomized trial

A method of scientific study that groups participants randomly into specific cohorts for the purposes of the experiment, typically used in studies of new medications, treatments, and potential side effects.

Receptors

Located on the surface of every living cell in the body and receive signals from other nearby cells.

Rheumatoid arthritis

A chronic inflammatory disorder affecting many joints, including those in the hands and feet, wherein the body's immune system attacks its own tissue. 

S

Scoliosis

A condition that causes an abnormal curvature in the spine.

Side effects

Additional, sometimes unintended, physiological consequences resulting from taking prescription drugs or undergoing treatments (e.g., short-term hair loss after cancer treatments).

Spinal stenosis

A condition involving a narrowing of the spaces in the spine, which can cause trouble walking as well as pain if left untreated.

Spondylosis

Age-related, degenerative changes affecting the joints and discs of the spine.

Sprain

An injury where the tendons and ligaments stretch too far or tear after a trauma.

Strain

An injury where muscle tissues stretch too far or tear after a trauma.

Symptoms

The outwardly observable and quantifiable characteristics that indicate the possibility of a physiological disorder, disease, or mental health issues (e.g., fatigue and dizziness caused by low blood sugar).

Syndrome

A collection of abnormal symptoms occurring together that usually form an identifiable pattern.

Synthetic

Relating to something artificial and engineered that doesn't exist in nature (e.g., synthetic fibers like polyester vs. non synthetic fibers like cotton).

T

THC

The psychoactive compound in cannabis responsible for creating sensations of euphoria and relaxation.

Topical pain relief

A product applied directly to the skin for pain management (e.g., gels, creams, sprays and patches).

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)

An alternative treatment involving targeted electrical impulses that can soothe and relieve the source of chronic pain.

U

Ultrasound therapy for chronic pain

An alternative therapy which uses ultrasound waves to penetrate the skin and soothe the source of pain.

V

Vertebrae

A term for the 24 bones that comprise the spine in adults (a single spinal bone is called a vertebra).

Virtual consultation

A visit with a healthcare provider that takes place via a secure online portal, typically HIPAA-compliant.

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your individual needs and medical conditions.