Washington, DC— Acute pain is a short-lived sensation that can be treated with a variety of current therapies. Chronic pain is more intransigent, persisting for weeks, months, even years, sometimes because of an ongoing insult, sometimes long after an injury has healed, and sometimes even in the absence of any past injury.
In neither type of pain is the pathogenesis completely understood, and a comprehensive picture of the mechanisms underlying these pain states, as well as the long-term consequences of injury, is needed to develop more effective pain therapies. While the drugs available to treat chronic pain are occasionally effective, rarely are they able to alleviate pain completely, said Allan Basbaum, PhD, of the University of California at San Francisco. “Inevitably, they stop working for reasons we don't understand, or the adverse side effect profile of the treatment makes it impossible for the patient to tolerate it,” he said.