Pain management, pain medicine, pain control or algiatry, is a branch of medicine employing an interdisciplinary approach for easing the suffering and improving the quality of life of those living with chronic pain. The typical pain management team includes medical practitioners, pharmacists, clinical psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, physician assistants, nurses. The team may also include other mental health specialists and massage therapists. Pain sometimes resolves promptly once the underlying trauma or pathology has healed, and is treated by one practitioner, with drugs such as analgesics and (occasionally) anxiolytics. Effective management of chronic (long-term) pain, however, frequently requires the coordinated efforts of the pain management team. Effective pain management does not mean total eradication of all pain.
Medicine treats injuries and diseases to support and speed healing, and it treats distressing symptoms such as pain to relieve suffering during treatment, healing, and dying. When a painful injury or pathology is resistant to treatment and persists, when pain persists after the injury or pathology has healed, and when medical science cannot identify the cause of pain, the task of medicine is to relieve suffering. Treatment approaches to chronic pain include pharmacological measures, such as analgesics, antidepressants and anticonvulsants, interventional procedures, physical therapy, physical exercise, application of ice and/or heat, and psychological measures, such as biofeedback and cognitive behavioural therapy.
- Physical medicine and rehabilitation
- Exercise interventions
- TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
- Light therapy
- Cognitive behavioural therapy
- Mindfulness meditation
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a pain ladder for managing analgesia. It was first described for use in cancer pain, but it can be used by medical professionals as a general principle when dealing with analgesia for any type of pain. In the treatment of chronic pain, whether due to malignant or benign processes, the three-step WHO Analgesic Ladder provides guidelines for selecting the kind and stepping up the amount of analgesia. The exact medications recommended will vary with the country and the individual treatment centre, but the following gives an example of the WHO approach to treating chronic pain with medications.
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Anesthesiology Case Reports: Open-Access