Chronic Pain

By: Tracy Witty

For the first time since 1979, International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) introduced a revised definition of pain, the result of a two-year process that the association hopes will lead to improved ways of assessing and managing pain.

The definition is: “An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage,” and is expanded upon by the addition of six key Notes and the etymology of the word pain for further valuable context.

  • Pain is always a personal experience that is influenced to varying degrees by biological, psychological, and social factors.
  • Pain and nociception are different phenomena. Pain cannot be inferred solely from activity in sensory neurons.
  • Through their life experiences, individuals learn the concept of pain.
  • A person’s report of an experience as pain should be respected.
  • Although pain usually serves an adaptive role, it may have adverse effects on function and social and psychological well-being.
  • Verbal description is only one of several behaviors to express pain; inability to communicate does not negate the possibility that a human or a nonhuman animal experiences pain.

A multi-national, multidisciplinary Task Force developed the revised definition with input from all potential stakeholders, including persons in pain and their caregivers.

The revised definition was introduced in this article in the journal PAIN and a via a press release. An infographic also illustrates the changes.

Standards of care to manage chronic pain includes the development of self management skills, but for many people, professional guidance is helpful to know what questions to ask, where to go for support and little things you can do to reduce your pain intensity and improve daily functioning.

Much of the educational information we provide and reinforce to our clients can be found on the Fraser Health website,  Manage Pain .  I highly recommend reviewing the relevant subheadings which include: medication usage, support groups, exercise, depression, sleep and even financial resources.  There are links to helpful videos and local resources.  I hope you find this website useful in your journey to develop your own self-management toolkit to manage your pain.