Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Chronic Pain Patients

  • Stuart DerbyshireEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_859-2



Chronic pain is typically defined as pain that continues in excess of 3–6 months regardless of the cause of the pain. Less commonly, chronic pain is defined as pain that persists beyond the point of any possible healing or any other useful function such as the enforcement of rest.


Major advances in the understanding of pain began with the observations of the physician Henry Beecher during World War 2. Beecher noted that seriously wounded soldiers brought from the front line requested less-pain medicine and reported less pain than he was used to seeing in his civilian patients. Beecher inferred that pain is not simply a response to physical injury or disease but also includes a cognitive and emotional component. Twenty years later, Canadian psychologist Ronald Melzack and British physiologist Patrick Wall published their gate control theory. Gate theory proposed that noxious and non-noxious sensory information interact in the spinal cord...

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References and Further Reading

  1. Loeser, J. D. (2006). Pain as a disease. In F. Cervero & T. J. Jensen (Eds.), Handbook of clinical neurology (pp. 11–20). Edinburgh: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  2. McMahon, S., & Koltzenburg, M. (2005). Wall and Melzack’s textbook of pain (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.Google Scholar
  3. Melzack, R., & Wall, P. D. (1996). The challenge of pain. London: Penguin.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

Section editors and affiliations

  • Anna C. Whittaker
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation SciencesUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK