Glossary of Terms
The treatment prescribed for you at NJ Pain Care Specialists will depend on the type of pain you’re experiencing and what’s causing it. The following list defines some of the many pain management terms you may hear or read about.
Ablative surgery: Performed on parts of the central or peripheral nervous system to help permanently alleviate pain by affecting the pathways of nerves.
Acupressure: Complementary medicine technique that uses pressure on certain points along the body to help with pain management.
Acupuncture: Complementary medicine technique that uses tiny needles inserted in the skin at certain points along the body to help manage pain.
Acute pain: Pain that can be extremely intense, but lasts for only a short period of time. Has a diagnosable cause and gets better with treatment.
Adjuvant medication: Drug not primarily designed for or prescribed to help alleviate pain, but that has been found to help with pain management.
Allodynia: Term used to describe pain that occurs from a situation that doesn’t usually cause pain, like something barely touching your skin.
Analgesic: A medication or treatment that relieves pain.
Anesthetic: Drug that causes numbness.
Antidepressant: Medication typically used to treat symptoms of depression, but also commonly prescribed to help manage chronic pain and some of its symptoms, such as insomnia.
Anxiolytics: Medications that help manage anxiety and are also used to manage pain by encouraging muscles to relax and thereby ease the pain.
Biofeedback: Complementary medicine technique that trains you to control your body’s unconscious processes, such as breathing and heart rate, which can help to alleviate pain.
Boston Scientific: See Spinal Cord Stimulation
Breakthrough pain: Pain that occurs suddenly or as a result of a particular activity.
Caudal Epidural Steroid Injection: Outpatient procedure is an injection of a steroid-anesthetic medication through an opening in the sacrum. The medication can reduce swelling and inflammation of irritated spinal nerves. The injection takes only a few minutes to complete.
Central nervous system (CNS): Your brain and spinal cord.
Cervical Epidural Steroid Injection: This injection relieves pain in the neck, shoulders, and arms caused by a pinched nerve (or nerves) in the cervical spine. Conditions such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or radiculopathy can compress nerves, causing inflammation and pain. The medication injected helps decrease the swelling of nerves.
Cervical Facet Radiofrequency Neurotomy : Also called radiofrequency (or RF) rhizotomy, this minimally-invasive procedure reduces or eliminates the pain of damaged facet joints by disrupting the medial branch nerves that carry the pain signals. Performed with local anesthetic.
Cervical Radiculopathy: An irritation or compression of one or more nerve roots in the cervical (upper) spine. Because these nerves travel to the shoulders, arms and hands, an injury in the cervical spine can cause symptoms in these areas. May result from a variety of problems with the bones and tissues of the cervical spinal column.
Cervical Selective Nerve Root Block: This injection relieves pain in the neck, shoulders, and arms caused by a pinched nerve (or nerves) in the cervical spine. It can be used to treat conditions such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis and radiculopathy.
Chronic pain: Minor or extreme pain that continues over many months or even years, and may get worse with time. Often persists long after an injury has healed.
Coccydynia: An inflammation of the tip of the tailbone, called the coccyx. It causes pain and tenderness between the buttocks.
Complementary medicine: Treatment that falls outside the standard medical approaches. Complementary medicine techniques for pain may include acupuncture, herbs, chiropractic care and yoga.
Computed Tomography (CT) scan: Diagnostic procedure, using X-ray technology and a computer, that may be used to help diagnose the source of your pain.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CPRS): Chronic condition is an unexplained feeling of pain and discomfort that most commonly affects an arm, leg, hand or foot.
Discography (or Discogram): Diagnostic procedure used to determine whether back pain is caused by one or more spinal discs. Involves pressurizing suspect discs with an injection of sterile liquid to induce pain. Helps the specialist plan a course of treatment.
Facet Joint Injections: Injection to help diagnose the source of a patient’s pain in the facet joints. It can also relieve pain and inflammation.
Facet Joint Syndrome: A deterioration of the facet joints, which help stabilize the spine and limit excessive motion. The facet joints are lined with cartilage and are surrounded by a lubricating capsule that enables the vertebrae to bend and twist.
Fibromyalgia: Chronic disorder that causes pain and stiffness throughout the tissues that support and move the bones and joints. Pain and localized tender points occur in the muscles, particularly those that support the neck, spine, shoulders, and hips. The disorder includes widespread pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and often depression.
Herniated Disc: A common injury that can affect any part of the spine, a herniated disc can cause severe pain and other problems in the arms or legs.
Hyperalgesia: Excessive pain sensitivity.
Hyperpathia: Excessive response to a pain trigger, and pain that continues after the pain trigger is gone.
Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy (IDET): Minimally-invasive procedure to alleviates the effects of low back pain caused by disc disease or small disc herniations; usually performed on an outpatient basis.
Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection: Performed to relieve low back and radiating leg pain. Steroid medication is injected to reduce the swelling and inflammation caused by spinal conditions.
Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica): An irritation or compression of one or more nerve roots in the lumbar spine. Because these nerves travel to the hips, buttocks, legs and feet, an injury in the lumbar spine can cause symptoms in these areas. Sciatica may result from a variety of problems with the bones and tissues of the lumbar spinal column.
Lumbar Radiofrequency Neurotomy: Also called radiofrequency (RF) rhizotomy, this minimally-invasive procedure reduces or eliminates the pain of damaged facet joints by disrupting the medial branch nerves that carry the pain signals. Performed with local anesthetic.
Lumbar Sympathetic Block: Performed to relieve leg pain caused by complex regional pain syndromes, which may develop after an injury to a joint or limb. Usually a series of injections are needed to treat the problem.
Lumbar Transforaminal Epidural Steroid Injection – Outpatient procedure is an injection of a steroid-anesthetic medication to reduce swelling and inflammation of irritated spinal nerves. This procedure is performed to relieve pain in the lower back and pain that radiates from the back to the legs. Takes only a few minutes to complete.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Diagnostic procedure that uses magnetic fields, radio waves and a computer to determine the source of pain.
Medial Branch Block: Diagnostic procedure is performed to identify painful facet joints, located between the vertebrae in the spine. They allow the spine to bend, flex and twist.
Micro Endoscopic Discectomy: Minimally-invasive procedure is performed through a tubular device. It is designed to relieve pain caused by herniated discs pressing on nerve roots. Usually performed on an outpatient basis, which allows the patient to go home the same day.
Myofascial pain: Pain and soreness in the muscles.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome: Caused by injury or damage to the fascia, the soft, stretchy connective tissue that surrounds muscles, organs and other structures inside the body. Myofascial Pain Syndrome causes chronic pain in muscles throughout the body, especially in the neck and jaw.
Nerve block: Pain management technique that involves injecting an anesthetic into the nerves to numb the area and help alleviate pain.
NSAIDs: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that help to reduce inflammation and manage pain.
Opioid: Medication class often prescribed to manage pain; drugs include codeine, morphine, fentanyl and methadone.
(P-Stim)???: See Spinal Cord Stimulation
Palliative care/Comfort care: Offers relief to chronically or terminally ill people through pain management and symptom management.
Percutaneous Disc Nucleoplasty: Minimally-invasive procedure uses a small needle and advanced radiofrequency technology to reduce a herniated disc, quickly relieving pain in most patients. The procedure may be performed on an outpatient basis using a gentle, relaxing medicine and local anesthetic.
Peripheral nervous system: Includes the nerves all over the body that relay messages like pain to the CNS.
Peripheral neuralgia: Results from damage to the peripheral nervous system – the nerves that travel from the spinal cord to the limbs and organs.
Phantom limb pain: Common among amputees, a painful sensation that seems to originate in a missing limb. It is different from stump pain, which is pain in the stump of an amputated limb generally caused by overuse or a poorly fitting prosthesis.
Pharmacotherapy: Medication-based therapy.
Physical dependence: A condition in which there are withdrawal symptoms if a person suddenly stops using a substance.
Piriformis Syndrome: An irritation of the sciatic nerve, a thick nerve that branches from the lumbar spine and travels through the buttocks and down the back of each leg. An irritation of the sciatic nerve can result in radiating pain or numbness from the buttocks down through the legs.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment for Chronic Back Pain: Non-surgical procedure relieves chronic back pain with an injection of the patient’s own blood platelets. The concentrated platelets promote the natural healing of damaged joints and soft tissues of the spine.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment for Whiplash: Non-surgical procedure treats whiplash injury with an injection of the patient’s own blood platelets – concentrated platelets promote the natural healing of damaged ligaments, cartilage and tendons.
Prostaglandins: Hormone-like substances best known for inducing uterine contractions. Prostaglandins also serve many other functions.
Psychological approaches: Techniques or therapies used instead of, or in addition to, medication that help you manage pain. Types of therapy include biofeedback, relaxation, stress management, and cognitive-behavioral therapy to manage the emotional triggers of pain.
Racz Caudal Neurolysis: Generally performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia, procedure relieves low back and leg pain most often caused by scarring from a prior back surgery.
Rehabilitation: Treatment plan, often exercise based, used to help you regain function or relieve pain caused by an illness or injury.
Reiki: Complementary medicine technique that uses gentle pressure from the hands to encourage “healing energy,” and is often used to treat both acute and chronic pain.
Sacroiliac Joint Steroid Injection: Injection relieves pain caused by arthritis in the sacroiliac joint where the spine and hip bone meet. The steroid medication can reduce swelling and inflammation in the joint.
Sciatica (Lumbar Radiculopathy): An irritation or compression of one or more nerve roots in the lumbar spine. Because these nerves travel to the hips, buttocks, legs and feet, an injury in the lumbar spine can cause symptoms in these areas. Sciatica may result from a variety of problems with the bones and tissues of the lumbar spinal column.
Scleroderma: An autoimmune disease that is associated with thickening or hardening of the skin and connective tissue.
Spinal column: The body’s main support structure. Its thirty-three bones, called
vertebrae, are divided into five regions: cervical (upper back), thoracic (mid-back), lumbar (lower back), sacral (pelvic area) and coccygeal (tailbone).
Spinal Cord Stimulation (Boston Scientific) OR (P-Stim)???: Spinal cord stimulation (also called SCS) uses electrical impulses to relieve chronic pain of the back and legs. It is believed that electrical pulses prevent pain signals from being received by the brain. SCS candidates include people who suffer from neuropathic pain and for whom conservative treatments have failed.
Spinal Stenosis: The spinal column contains open spaces that create passageways for the spinal cord and the spinal nerves. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of (or an intrusion into) these openings. This can cause a compression of the nerves. Spinal stenosis most commonly affects the cervical and lumbar regions of the spine.
Spondylolisthesis: Damage to bones or joints that causes vertebrae to slip forward and distort the spinal cord. The two types of spondylolisthesis, degenerative and isthmic.
Stellate Ganglion Block: Injection can both diagnose and treat pain coming from the sympathetic nerves. It is a common treatment for shingles and complex regional pain syndromes affecting the head, face, neck, or arms. Usually a series of these injections is needed to treat the problem.
Sympathetic nerve chain: A network of nerves extending the length of the spine. These nerves control some of the involuntary functions of the body, such as opening and narrowing blood vessels.
Thoracic Epidural Steroid Injection: Outpatient injection is performed to relieve pain in the upper back.
Thoracic Facet Radiofrequency Neurotomy: Minimally-invasive procedure, also called radiofrequency (or RF) rhizotomy, reduces or eliminates the pain of damaged facet joints by disrupting the medial branch nerves that carry the pain signals. Procedure is performed with local anesthetic. Tolerance: This condition occurs when the initial dose of a substance loses its effectiveness over time.
Withdrawal: The physiological and mental readjustment that occurs after a person discontinues use of an addictive substance. There are varying degrees of withdrawal.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): Pain management technique that uses small amounts of electricity delivered through electrodes placed on the skin.
Whiplash (CAD Syndrome): Whiplash, also called cervical acceleration/deceleration (or CAD) syndrome, is a neck injury commonly caused by car accidents, falls, and contact sports. It results from a quick, jerking motion that forces the neck beyond its normal range of motion.
YESS Selective Endoscopic Discectomy™: Minimally-invasive procedure performed through a small tubular device to relieve pain caused by herniated discs pressing on nerve roots. Performed under local or epidural anesthesia, allowing the patient to leave the hospital the same day.
Yoga: Complementary medicine technique that exercises the mind and body with meditation, postures, and breathing techniques that can help manage pain.