Pain is defined, by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), as an ‘unpleasant sensitive and emotional experience, associated with or described in terms of tissue lesion’. It may be classified as acute or chronic when it becomes a symptom that worsens the quality of life, and thus loses its protective function. Pain may also be considered as chronic when it lasts over 3 to 6 months. Acute painful episodes, are the most common cause for patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) to seek medical attention. The causes of chronic pain are diverse in this population. In a sense, chronic sickle cell pain is a spin off the recurrent acute painful episodes. Pain management in patients with SCD presents unique challenges and opportunities.
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