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Chronic pain across the life span 

Chronic pain across the life span
Chapter:
Chronic pain across the life span
Author(s):

Elaine Wainwright

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198828273.003.0003
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date: 28 March 2020

Pain can be thought about at individual, social, and global levels and discursively defined in different ontological and epistemological ways. There is presently no absolute agreement about how to define it. However, there are movements to bridge the sufferer–observer, subjective–objective gap, and to think about pain from a functional perspective as opposed to conceptualizing it simply as an experience. Key conceptualizations of pain focus on its embodied nature and its extant function in protecting the organism from threat. Many epidemiological studies and systematic reviews define pain via International Association for the Study of Pain and International Classification of Diseases criteria, and show the extent of the global pain burden. Pain has many negative consequences across the life span, including a distinct impact on people’s working lives. How pain is conceptualized has important implications for clinical, research, and policy agendas. The embodied view of pain as an action against uncertainty means that if we are to reduce pain intrusion and interference (including whilst we work, or more broadly occupy ourselves) we must attend more deeply to how people manage threats to identity and coherence. We need clearer agendas to seek better pain-relieving resolutions than we achieve today.

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