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Pain Control Glossary

June 10, 2008 - 7:30am
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Pain Control Glossary

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Acupuncture: Chinese practice of inserting needles into the skin at specific points of the body to relieve pain.

Addiction: psychological or emotional dependence on the effects of a drug.

Analgesics: medicines that are used to relieve pain.

Anesthesiologist: a doctor who specializes in giving drugs or other agents that prevent or relieve pain.

Antidepressant: a medicine used to treat depression.

Chemotherapy: treatment with anticancer drugs.

Cordotomy: surgery to cut some of the fibers of the spinal cord; used to relieve pain.

Distraction: a pain relief method that takes the attention away from the pain.

Dose: the amount of medicine taken.

Duration of action: the length of time that the effect of a medicine lasts.

Epidural: into the spinal column but outside of the spinal cord.

Frequency: how often medicine is taken.

Hypnosis: a trance-like state in which response to suggestions or commands is increased.

Imagery: a method of pain relief that uses mental images produced by memory or imagination.

Infusion: a method of giving pain medication into a vein or under the skin; unlike an injection, which is pushed in by a syringe, an infusion flows in by gravity. Some continuous infusions are given using a mechanical pump.

Intramuscular (IM): into a muscle.

Intrathecal (IC): into the spinal cord.

Intravenous (IV): into a vein.

Local anesthetic: a drug that blocks nerve conduction in the region where it is applied.

Metastasis: the spread of cancer from one part of the body to another.

Narcotic : pain relieving drug related in action and structure to the opiates.

Nerve block: pain relief method in which an anesthetic is injected into a nerve.

Neurosurgeon: a doctor who specializes in operations on the brain, nerves, and spinal cord.

Nonprescription (over the counter) pain relievers: analgesics that can be bought without a doctor's order.

Oncologist: a doctor who specializes in the treatment of cancer.

Onset of action: the length of time it takes for a medicine to start to work.

Opiate: pain-killing drug chemically related to opium; also called a narcotic.

Pain threshold: the level of pain at which a person becomes aware of it.

Pediatric oncologist: a doctor who specializes in treating children with cancer.

Physical therapy: the health profession that treats pain in muscles, nerves, joints, and bones with exercise, electrical stimulation, hydrotherapy, and the use of massage, heat, cold, and electrical devices.

Prescription pain relievers: analgesics that can be bought only with a doctor's order.

Radiation therapy: treatment with high energy from x-rays or other sources to kill cancer cells.

Relaxation techniques: methods used to lessen tension, reduce anxiety, and manage pain.

Rhizotomy: incision of nerve roots within the spinal canal.

Side effect: an unintended symptom that results from using a drug.

Skin stimulation: the use of pressure, friction, temperature change, or chemical substances to excite the nerve endings in the skin.

Stage: the extent of disease.

Subcutaneous: under the skin.

Tolerance: decreasing effect of a drug with the same dose or the need to increase the dose to maintain the same effect.

Tranquilizer: a drug used to treat anxiety.


Adapted from National Cancer Institute, 2/00

Last reviewed February 2000 by EBSCO Publishing Editorial Staff

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.