Pain Dictionary for Patients

Peer Reviewed

Acupuncture
Dictionary page with definition of the word "pain"Oriental practice of inserting needles into the skin at points (Meridians) of the body to help relieve pain and treat illness.

Acute Pain
Sharp or intense short-term pain. Typically follows injury or surgery.

Addiction
Psychological or emotional need for a drug. Associated with cravings and inappropriate efforts to obtain the drug.

Algology
The science and study of pain phenomena.

Allodynia
The sensation of pain triggered by a stimulus to the skin that is normally not painful (e.g., lightly touching a sunburn).

Analgesia
Absence or decreased pain response to stimulation that would normally be painful.

Analgesic
Medicine used to relieve pain.

Anesthesia
Absence or partial loss of sensation.

Anesthetic
An agent (or agents) that reversibly produce anesthesia.

Anti-inflammatory
A medicine that reduces inflammation.

Arthropathy
Disorder or disease of a joint.

Athralgia
Pain in or affecting a joint.

Causalgia
Intense pain and sensitivity usually following injury to a peripheral nerve.

Central Pain
Pain associated with a lesion or dysfunction of the central nervous system.

Chronic Pain
The opposite of acute pain. Persistent, long-term pain.

Deafferentation Pain
Pain due to the loss of normal sensory input into the central nervous system.

Dermatome
An area of skin supplied by fibers of a single nerve root.

Dysesthesia
An abnormal, unpleasant sensation.

Epidural
An injection into the outer layer of the spinal canal (the epidural space).

Hyperalgesia
Increased sensitivity to pain.

Hyperesthesia
Abnormal, acute sensitivity to sensory stimulation of the skin.

Hypoalgesia
Diminished sensitivity to sensory stimulation of the skin.

Narcotic
Usually refers to opioids--pain-relieving drugs that are derivatives of opium.

Nerve Block
An injection of medication directly into or around a nerve or group of nerves to provide regional pain relief.

Neuralgia
Pain in the distribution of a nerve or nerves and caused by nerve damage or dysfunction.

Neuritis
Inflammation of a nerve or nerves.

Neuropathic Pain
Pain originating from the malfunctioning of the nervous system.

Neuropathy
Disturbance of function or pathologic change in one or more nerves.

Nociceptive
Response to a painful stimulus.

Nociceptor
A sensory nerve receptor that responds to pain.

Noxious Stimulus
A stimulus that is harmful or potentially harmful to body tissue, and triggers a painful or unpleasant sensation.

Opioid or Opiate
A pain-killing drug chemically related to opium.

Pain
An unpleasant feeling that may be associated with disease or trauma.

Pain Threshold
The most minimal stimulation that a person recognizes as painful?this varies from individual to individual.

Pain Tolerance Level
The greatest amount of pain a person can tolerate.

Paresthesia
An abnormal sensation such as tingling or ?pins and needles? that may be uncomfortable, but not truly painful.

Radiculitis
Inflammation of a nerve root in the spinal canal.

Radiculopathy
Pain and neurologic deficit caused by injury to a nerve root.

Referred Pain
Pain felt in a body part that is distant from the pain origin. The origin and the body part may share a common nerve pathway.

Rhizotomy
Surgical incision of nerve root(s) within the spinal canal.

Somatosensory
Sensory signals from the body?usually referring to signals from the limbs rather than internal organs.

Trigger Point
An area in muscle or connective tissue that is hypersensitive to touch or pressure.

Updated on: 03/04/16
Curtis A. Dickman, MD
This pain dictionary provides a useful guide that helps patients to understand commonly used medical terms related to spinal pain and nerve related pain symptoms.
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