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Pain glossary

Chemotherapy: Treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells.

Chiropractic therapy: A type of therapy in which the hands are used to manipulate the spine or other parts of the body. Sometimes, heat and ice, relaxation techniques, exercise and other treatments are also used. Chiropractic therapy may be used to treat conditions such as back pain, neck pain, headache, and hand or foot problems, and to improve overall health. It is a type of CAM.

Chronic pain: Long-term pain. Chronic pain is sometimes considered a separate disease entity, and can be much harder to treat than acute pain. Chronic pain conditions include fibromyalgia, low back pain, rheumatoid arthritisand cancer pain.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): A type of psychotherapy that helps patients change their behavior by changing the way they think and feel about certain things. It is used to treat mental, emotional, personality and behavioral disorders.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Treatment that is used in addition to (complementary) or instead of (alternative) conventional treatments. These practices generally are not considered standard medical approaches. CAM may include dietary supplements, herbal preparations, special teas, acupuncture, massage therapy, spiritual healing and meditation.

Complementary medicine: Therapy used together with conventional medicine. For instance, massage therapy is used together with analgesics to lessen a patient’s discomfort from musculoskeletal pain.

Conventional treatment/therapy: Treatment that is widely accepted and used by most healthcare professionals. It is different from alternative or complementary therapies. Examples of conventional treatment include medicines, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.

Corticosteroid: Corticosteroids are used to treat many different conditions. They may be used as hormone replacement, to suppress the immune system, and to treat some side effects of cancer and its treatment. Steroid drugs relieve swelling and inflammation so they may be useful in severe inflammatory pain. However, they must be taken in low doses and for short periods to prevent potential side effects.

Cyclo-oxygenase (COX)-2 inhibitors – COX-2 inhibitors, also called coxibs, treat pain the same way as NSAIDs but do not cause the side effects typical of NSAIDs, like gastrointestinal bleeding or ulcers. Examples of COX-2 inhibitors include celecoxib and etoricoxib.