Taxonomies for Chronic Visceral Pain

Winfried Häuser; Andrew Baranowski; Bert Messelink; Ursula Wesselmann


Pain. 2020;161(6):1129-1135. 

In This Article


In the past, pain associated with viscera has typically been considered as a symptom of visceral disease. It was only more recently that the medical specialties of gynecology, gastroenterology, and urology have recognized that visceral pain can be a pain syndrome in its own right. As visceral pain has been recognized as a chronic pain syndrome, which often occurs as a comorbid condition together with other chronic pain syndromes,[5,22,26] several medical and scientific associations have developed taxonomies for specific visceral pain conditions.

Taxonomies in general are defined as hierarchical arrangements of terms that describe a particular branch of science or field of knowledge. Ideally, terms are selected and arranged to be mutually exclusive, thus creating an ordered universe with a place for everything and everything in its place. However, medicine does not lend itself well to such pure rationalism.[19] The open conceptual question remains whether taxonomies should use a "lumping" or "splitting" approach. Specifically, the question has been raised if different diagnostic manifestations of a basic pathological process have been divided into multiple diagnostic silos by taxonomies, creating artifactual comorbidity in certain circumstances.[14]