Pain eMonthly

Pain eMonthly provides information about the pain field, the association, and the activities of IASP's members, chapters, and Special Interest Groups.

President's Message

Defining Pain

How should we define pain in 2019? Currently, IASP defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.” This definition was derived from a 1960s definition by Harold Merskey and colleagues. As research, understanding, and inclusion of pain has grown, so must our interruption and definition, which is why in November of 2018 the IASP Council provided the Definition of Pain Task Force with the following direction:

  • Consider additional feedback regarding the proposed changes to the definition of pain and the notes section as submitted in November
  • Consider a process to solicit feedback from IASP members and/or the broader community regarding the proposed changes to the definition of pain and notes section

We are very much aware that whatever proposal we come up with will generate a lot of relevant discussions. The Definition of Pain Task Force has been very efficiently headed by Prof. Srinivasa Raja, and I would like to use this opportunity to thank the entire Task Force for all their hard work and commitment to fulfill their charge. Following many constructive discussions, the Task Force proposed a new definition which states that pain is “an aversive sensory and emotional experience typically caused by, or resembling that caused by, actual or potential tissue injury.” the accompanying notes section can be found here.

As IASP values inclusion and transparency and believes a public examination of our work is vitally important to our mission, we are asking the pain community to submit comments on the proposed new definition of pain. Your feedback will help inform further discussions around the finalization of the definition. I urge IASP members to not only provide their honest feedback, but I also invite you to share this announcement with colleagues, students, healthcare consumers, and other stakeholders. Visit the IASP website to read our new definition and submit your comments.

Thank you for your help and continued support of IASP.

Lars Arendt-Nielsen, Dr. Med., PhD

IASP President

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