Pain Terminology

IASP Taxonomy

The following pain terminology is updated from “Part III: Pain Terms, A Current List with Definitions and Notes on Usage” (pp 209-214) Classification of Chronic Pain, Second Edition, IASP Task Force on Taxonomy, edited by H. Merskey and N. Bogduk, IASP Press, Seattle, ©1994.

Pain Terms

Note: An asterisk (*) indicates that the term is either newly introduced or the definition or accompanying note has been revised since the 1994 publication.


Pain and Addiction Terminology

Term Definition
Physical dependence Normal physiologic adaptation defined as the development of withdrawal or abstinence syndrome with abrupt dose reduction or administration of an antagonist
Tolerance Normal neurobiological event characterized by the need to increase the dose over time to obtain the original effect
Cross-tolerance Normal neurobiological event of tolerance to effects of medication within the same class
Substance (opioid) dependence (addiction) Chronic neurobiological disorder defined as a pattern of maladaptive behaviors, including loss of control over use, craving and preoccupation with nontherapeutic use, and continued use despite harm resulting from use with or without physical dependence or tolerance
Pseudoaddiction Behavioral changes in patients that seem similar to those in patients with opioid dependence or addiction but are secondary to inadequate pain control
Drug-seeking behaviors Directed or concerted efforts on the part of the patient to obtain opioid medication or to ensure an adequate medication supply; may be an appropriate response to inadequately treated pain
Therapeutic dependence Patients with adequate pain relief may demonstrate drug-seeking behaviors because they fear not only the reemergence of pain but perhaps also the emergence of withdrawal symptoms
Pseudo-opioid resistance Adequate pain relief continue to report persistent severe pain to prevent reduction in current opioid analgesic dose
Opioid-induced hyperalgesia A neuroplastic change in pain perception resulting in an increase in pain sensitivity to painful stimuli, thereby decreasing the analgesic effects of opioids


Other thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.