Glossary of Terms

Acute Pain

Sharp or intense short-term pain. Typically follows injury or surgery.


Absence or decreased pain response to stimulation that would normally be painful.


A medicine that reduces inflammation.

Central Pain

Pain associated with a lesion or dysfunction of the central nervous system.


An abnormal, unpleasant sensation..


Diminished sensitivity to sensory stimulation of the skin.


Inflammation of a nerve or nerves.


A sensory nerve receptor that responds to pain.

Pain Threshold

The most minimal stimulation that a person recognizes as painful—this varies from individual to individual.


Pain and neurologic deficit caused by injury to a nerve root. (Link to sciatica animation)

Trigger Point

An area in muscle or connective tissue that is hypersensitive to touch or pressure.


Psychological or emotional need for a drug. Associated with cravings and inappropriate efforts to obtain the drug.


An agent (or agents) that reversibly produce anesthesia.


Disorder or disease of a joint.

Chronic Pain

The opposite of acute pain. Persistent, long-term pain.


An injection into the outer layer of the spinal canal (the epidural space).


Usually refers to opioids – pain-relieving drugs that are derivatives of opium.

Neuropathic Pain

Pain originating from the malfunctioning of the nervous system.

Noxious Stimulus

A stimulus that is harmful or potentially harmful to body tissue, and triggers a painful or unpleasant sensation.

Pain Tolerance Level

The greatest amount of pain a person can tolerate.

Referred Pain

Pain felt in a body part that is distant from the pain origin. The origin and the body part may share a common nerve pathway.

What is minimally invasive spine surgery?

Minimally invasive spine surgery involves surgery that is able to be performed on an outpatient basis, through a small keyhole incision rather than having to make a large open incision to reach the patient’s spine. By performing surgery this way, there is a little scar tissue formation over the nerves that are decompressed, the surgery is tissue sparing, maintains the structural integrity of the spine, and makes for a faster and less painful recovery.


The science and study of pain phenomena.


Absence or partial loss of sensation.


Pain in or affecting a joint.

Deafferentation Pain

Pain due to the loss of normal sensory input into the central nervous system.


Increased sensitivity to pain.

Nerve Block

An injection of medication directly into or around a nerve or group of nerves to provide regional pain relief.


Disturbance of function or pathologic change in one or more nerves.

Opioid or Opiate

A pain-killing drug chemically related to opium.


An abnormal sensation such as tingling or ‘pins and needles’ that may be uncomfortable, but not truly painful.


Surgical incision of nerve root(s) within the spinal canal.


The sensation of pain triggered by a stimulus to the skin that is normally not painful (e.g., lightly touching a sunburn).


An agent (or agents) that reversibly produce anesthesia.


Intense pain and sensitivity usually following injury to a peripheral nerve.


An area of skin supplied by fibers of a single nerve root.


Abnormal, acute sensitivity to sensory stimulation of the skin.


Pain in the distribution of a nerve or nerves and caused by nerve damage or dysfunction.


Response to a painful stimulus.


An unpleasant feeling that may be associated with disease or trauma.


Inflammation of a nerve root in the spinal canal.


Sensory signals from the body—usually referring to signals from the limbs rather than internal organs.