If You Recast Chronic Pain as Persistent Pain,

Monday, March 16th, 2009
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

does it hurt less? Cheryl Pacella, a nursing instructor and the performance improvement advisor at Masspro, offered this interpretation during a recent conference on relieving the costs and consequences of chronic pain:

I’d like to review the definitions of “chronic” versus “persistent,” directly from Webster’s Dictionary. Chronic is “lasting a long time or recurring often.” In terms of disease, chronic can be defined as — “having an ailment for a long time, continuing indefinitely or habitually.” The word chronic usually has a negative connotation. Usually the next word that comes to mind is “complainer.” In fact, this is an example listed in the dictionary. “Persistent” is a much more favorable term. The definition is “refusing to relent, continuing, especially in the face of opposition, continuing to exist or endure.” Chronic or persistent pain is any pain that persists for at least one month beyond the usual course of an acute illness or typical healing time following an injury. Examples include some cancer-related pain, arthritic pain, fibromyalgia or post-herpetic neuralgia.

In terms of interventions and pain management, Pacello advises that all pain is individual:

Every patient is different. The goal of pain management is improved function, mood, sleep and decreased pain severity. There are both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic approaches to pain management. It’s important to base the intervention on the response of the patient.

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