The IASP has recently released a revised definition of pain. The definition developed and adopted in 1979; An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage has, after two years of much discussion and debate, been revised to An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage.
Here they are side by side. It feels a bit like playing one of those spot the difference games….
The Notes have undergone a lot of change though.
A narrative review The revised International Association for the Study of Pain definition of pain; concepts, challenges and compromises available open access here makes for an interesting read.
During a one year public consultation period, the committee received 808 responses from people across 46 countries on the proposed revision; An aversive sensory and emotional experience typically caused by, or resembling that caused by, actual or potential tissue injury. About 42% were satisfied or very satisfied with this proposed revision, but this was equalled by those who were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. Of those dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, half were people who identified as having the lived experience of pain, or their caregivers.
Qualitative feedback on the proposed revision was coded and four overarching categories were developed to describe the written feedback. This is summarised in the figure below
It seems to me that the respondents were asking for a definition that was modern, simple and practical, and captured the complexity of pain as a human experience.
Did the IASP task force nail it or blow it?
– Tim Cocks
PS. At least they took this bit out of the Note; Many people report pain in the absence of tissue damage or any likely pathophysiological cause; usually this happens for psychological reasons.