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An Examination of “Chronic Pain”

The Ever-Evolving Language of Pain

An article published in the Journal of Pain Research questions the use of the term “chronic pain.” The article authors examine the word “chronic” from its Greek origins through dictionary definitions and medical usage. They’ve determined that the term may be misleading, showing “a semantic inaccuracy”;  that practitioners risk falling into the pitfalls of “difficulties in understanding the multifaceted complexity of long-standing pain states…”; and that patients may feel their pain is misinterpreted.

“Chronic pain” as a term indicates primarily the length of time the pain has occurred. It does not “discern the multifaceted complexity of long-standing pain states, whose onset, maintenance and exacerbation are influenced by a complex and interdependent set of bio-psycho-social factors.” The authors call for a better name or phrase, and “Further research on the etiopathogenetic processes of chronic pain states” along with “examinative diagnostic methods, to individuate the most appropriate label(s) representing the complex long-standing pain states and to avoid adopting the term ‘chronic pain’ inappropriately."

Read the article.

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