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Throbbing, burning, aching, stinging–the terms patients use to describe pain are often different because pain is personal and subjective and influenced by age, gender, race/ethnicity, and psychosocial factors. The International Association for the Study of Pain defines it as an unpleasant experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage to a person's body.
There are two basic forms of physical pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain, for the most part, results from disease, inflammation, or injury to tissues. It is immediate and usually of a short duration. Acute pain is a normal response to injury and may be accompanied by anxiety or emotional distress. The cause of acute pain can usually be diagnosed and treated.
Chronic pain is continuous pain that persists for more than 3 months, and beyond the time of normal healing. It ranges from mild to severe and can last weeks, months, or years to a lifetime. The cause of chronic pain is not always evident, although it can be brought on by chronic conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia. Chronic pain can often interfere with a patient's quality of life, sleep, and productivity.
A Symptom of Many Diseases
Talking to Your Doctor About Pain
Research on Pain
Why is Basic Research Important to Understanding Pain?
Why is Behavioral Research Important to Understanding Pain?
Current and Planned Initiatives