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
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.
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