What is chronic pain?

Describing pain is a difficult task because of the subjectivity that characterises it. A more complete definition was first given by the IASP  International Association for the Study of Pain” in 1986, which defined it as: “a sensory and emotionally unpleasant experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described as such”.


  • Chronic lumbago;
  • Acute and chronic lumbosciatica, axial lumbago, cervical, thoracic and lumbar facet joint syndrome;
  • Cervical pain and cervicobrachialgia;
  • Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS) due to spinal surgery for herniated disc or other pathologies;
  • Acute and chronic osteoarticular and musculoskeletal pain (arthritis, arthrosis, osteoporosis, etc. in relation to the shoulder, knee, hip and small joints);
  • Chronic postoperative pain;
  • Headache and migraine;
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) Type I and II;
  • Acute Herpes Zooster pain and postherpetic neuralgia (NPH);
  • Fibromyalgia;
  • Chronic pelvic pain;
  • Primary and secondary neuropathic pain;
  • Painful neuralgia and neuropathies (intercostal, inguinal, post-chemotherapy);
  • Pain in the oncological patient;
  • Pain during immunosuppressive treatments;
  • Pain of vascular origin;
  • Pain in primary and secondary collagenopathies, acute and chronic tendinopathies and muscle pain.

Recent estimates have identified the presence of chronic pain in 35% of the total population, providing an empirical but effective measure of the severity on general health. The concept of pain has evolved over the years: from being a condition mostly ‘reserved’ for the terminally ill, it is now considered a ‘disease within a disease’ with characteristics that vary from person to person.

The main characteristic of chronic pain is its persistence over time after the cause has been resolved: the disappearance of the cause/effect relationship that characterises acute and persistent pain. The dual concept of pain/disease significantly impairs quality of life and the removal of the pain symptom coincides with the disappearance of the disease.

Medical science is fortunately coming to the rescue in this field, proposing ever newer medical treatments and techniques, such as electrical nerve neuromodulation (radiofrequency) or spinal cord neurostimulation.
Just as the treatment of the original pathology requires the intervention of the specialist, pain in its complexity also requires the intervention of the specialist in pain therapy, who not only knows how to correlate it with a correct diagnosis, but also how to administer appropriate analgesic medication including opiates, carry out minimally invasive interventional treatments, and manage the patient psychologically as well, assisting with therapy and promoting social integration.

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