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Pain Management

It is first useful to consider pain management models and examination and diagnosis procedures. Two helpful outline references are set out below: 

BioPsychoSocial Pain Model
Exam and Diagnosis

In the past pain, and particularly long-term or chronic pain, was something many patients simply had to learn to put up with. They got on with it one way or another, with little help from the medical establishment.

Recent research has meant we have learned a great deal about pain and the underlying biological and psychological reasons, leading to treatments that can provide significant or at least a degree of pain relief.

From this the specialism of pain management evolved, also called pain medicine, as doctors and other health professionals realised that it was worth trying to improve the pain itself and alter the consequences of pain problems, even if the underlying problem could not be changed.

This has been an enormously hopeful development, as so many important pain conditions cannot be successfully treated, so what is to be done with these problems? Techniques have evolved to deal with these medically insoluble difficulties and the whole medical speciality delivering this kind of care is called pain management.

Physiotherapists, doctors and other practitioners have also recognised something very important and very obvious. For many pain conditions, there are no useful investigations and no effective treatments. In these cases, are there any approaches or techniques which could help people cope with their pain burden?

The Aim Of Pain management

The aim of pain management is not to relieve pain. It aims to help the pain sufferers gain control over their pain and improve the quality of their lives. Pain management teams look at the whole person from many points of view, involving anaesthetists, clinical psyschologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, nurses and the patients themselves.

The Problems Of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain has a profound effect on all aspects of what makes us a person. The effects can be minor or highly disabling, with physical and psychological changes challenging our ability to manage our lives.

The pain management approach assesses the effects pain has had on the person, identifying the changes and abnormal behaviours which have evolved in response to a long period of pain.

Consequences Of Chronic Pain

Many aspects of a person are affected by chronic pain, and people react in very diverse ways. Typical problems which pain management tries to identify and work on are:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Excessive resting time
  • Reduction and avoidance of activity
  • Episodes of overactivity with consequent pain
  • Overuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Repeated seeking of medical help and treatment
  • Negative thinking and catastrophising

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