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Easing Your Patients’ Pain An overview of pain, treatment options, and the physicians who specialize in treating pain.

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Easing Your

Patients’ Pain

An overview of pain, treatment options, and the physicians who specialize in treating pain


ANS has partnered with the National Pain Foundation (NPF), a non-profit organization founded to advance functional recovery of pain patients, to create this educational presentation.


Long-term pain affects most of your patients.

  • 3 out of 4 Americans have experienced chronic or recurring pain or have a family member who has experienced such pain.1
  • Almost 62% of pain sufferers have had their pain for a year or more.1
  • A majority of adults (57%) have experienced chronic or recurring pain, including 54% of adults aged 18–34.1

Topics included in this presentation

  • Recognition of pain as a major health issue in the United States
  • Pain management as a medical specialty
  • Advanced treatments for pain
  • Referrals to interventional pain physicians

Types and definitions of pain

  • Acute Pain
    • Accompanies tissue injury or pathology
    • Comes on quickly but lasts a short time
    • Varies in severity and intensity
  • Chronic Pain
    • Continues a month or more beyond usual recovery period
    • Goes on for months or years due to a chronic condition
    • Difficult to define onset

Types and definitions of pain

  • Nociceptive Pain
    • Caused by irritation to special nerve endings (nociceptors)
    • Can be dull or sharp
    • Can be mild or severe
  • Neuropathic Pain
    • Caused by a malfunction of the nervous system
    • Result of injury, disease, or trauma
    • Can be sharp, intense, and constant
    • Can be dull, aching, and throbbing

Millions of Americans suffer with pain…

  • 50 million Americans are partially or totally disabled by chronic pain.2
  • 9 out of 10 Americans (aged 18 and older) suffer with pain at least once a month.2
  • 77% of pain patients strongly agree that new options are needed to treat their pain7
  • 50% of Americans (aged 65 and older) suffer with pain on a daily basis.2

…and chronic pain is a costly problem.

  • 36 million per year miss work due to pain.2
  • Pain costs almost $100 billion annually.3
  • Pain results in over 50 million lost workdays.3
  • 50% of chronic pain patients have lost a job due to their illness7
  • Workers lose an average of 4.6 hours per week of productive time due to a pain condition.4

Chronic pain is associated with many conditions.5






Lower Back Pain






Pain management as

a medical specialty


Interventional pain management medicine

  • Growing as a new specialty
  • Includes evaluation and treatment of acute and/or chronic pain
  • Requires that pain physicians receive at least one year of training in pain management post medical degree
  • Requires knowledge of all of chronic pain therapy options
pain assessment process
Pain assessment process

Physicians should address

  • Types of pain
  • Distribution of pain
  • Patient’s current pain state
  • Effects of patient’s current treatment
  • Appropriate tools available for pain evaluation
treatment steps to consider
Treatment steps to consider
  • Focus early treatment on quickly reversing the problem.
  • Identify the best methods of treatment.
  • Define distinct goals for the patient.
    • Pain reduction
    • Improved function
    • Enhanced quality of life



Orthopedic surgeon

Physiatrist (PM&R)


Other pain practitioners



Physical therapist

Psychiatrist, psychologist, or professional counselor

Physicians who often specialize in pain management


Challenges facing pain physicians

  • Managing the patient’s pain when a cure does not exist
  • Identifying ways to manage pain by using a chronic pain treatment continuum

Treatments early in the continuum

  • Medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Counseling

This presentation will focus on the more advanced

treatments used by pain physicians.


Advanced treatments: Injections

Nerve blocks—An injectionof local anesthetic and/or steroids that is applied directly to the nerve that serves an area of pain


Advanced treatments: Injections

Epidural steroid injections—An injection of steroids into the epidural space to alleviate chronic pain in the low back or leg


Advanced treatments: Injections

Facet joint injections—Aninjection procedure used to block or decrease pain that originates in the spinal facet joints


Advanced treatments: Medical devices

Neurostimulators—Implantable devices that uselow-level electrical impulses to interfere with the transmission of pain signals to the brain

an overview of neuromodulation
An overview of neuromodulation
  • A system typically consist of three components designed to work together
    • Leads—very thin cables that deliver electrical impulses to nerves near the spinal cord
    • Generator—the part of the system that sends electrical energy through the lead
    • Controller—the device that determines the level of stimulation
scs patient selection process
SCS patient selection process
  • Correctly diagnosed
  • Failed lower-level therapies
  • Successfully passed psychological evaluation
  • Patient is motivated
  • Patient is educated
scs trial overview
SCS trial overview
  • Leads are implanted in the epidural space
  • An external power source is used to evaluate
    • Pain relief
    • Paresthesia coverage
    • Power requirements
    • Programming needs
    • System requirements
  • Patients can use the programmer to control stimulation to cover their pain areas
why use spinal cord stimulation scs
Why use spinal cord stimulation (SCS)?
  • Effective pain management method
  • Minimally invasive procedure that can be reversed
  • Possible reduction or elimination of pain medications
  • International recognition and use

Advanced treatments: Medications

Systemic opioids—Narcotics are used for patients with severe chronic pain who have not responded to more conservative therapies and for whom surgery has failed or is not an option.


Advanced treatments: Ablative procedures

  • Cryoanalgesia—Applying extreme cold to nerves to disrupt their ability to transmit pain
  • RF lesioning—Applying radio-frequency generated heat to nerves to disrupt pain transmission
  • IntraDiscal Electrothermal Therapy (IDET)—Applying heat to seal cracks and fissures in a dehydrated disc

Advanced treatments: Medical devices

Implantable drug pumps—Devices that deliver medications directly to the cerebrospinal fluid in the intrathecal space surrounding the spinal cord


Advanced treatments: Surgery

Neuroablation—Surgery that permanently blocks chronic pain by destroying nerves and tissues near the source of pain


Pain patients often need specialized care.

  • Pain accounts for 80% of all physician visits.2
  • Only 48% of pain patients felt they were getting enough information on the most effective ways to manage chronic pain.7
  • 86% of chronic pain sufferers report an inability to sleep well.7
  • 60% of pain patients experience breakthrough pain one or more times daily.7

Pain patients often need specialized care.

  • 14% of pain sufferers say that they are satisfied with their current medications.7
  • 22% of chronic pain patients have changed physicians 3 or more times.6
  • The main reasons for changing physicians have to do with the physicians’ attitudes, knowledge, and abilities.6

Pain physicians can help patients with

  • Chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Chronic headaches and migraines
  • Chronic trunk and limb pain
  • Repetitive motion pain
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Complex regional pain
  • Cancer pain
other criteria for referring patients to pain specialists
Other criteria for referring patients to pain specialists
  • Multiple symptoms or sources of pain
  • Unresponsive to conservative therapies
  • Deteriorated functional status
  • Uncomfortable prescribing or monitoring opioid treatment

Choosing a pain physician for referrals

Verify that the physician is certified by, or a member

of, a pain-related professional organization:

  • American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM)
  • American Board of Pain Medicine (ABPM)

Subspecialty certifications

  • American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA)
  • American Board of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (ABPMR)
  • American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology (ABPN)

Benefits of referring patients to pain physicians

  • Better outcomes for patients
  • Enhances effectiveness of primary care treatment plans
  • Improves patient/physician relationships
  • The wide range of treatments available today allows a patient to receive effective pain relief quickly.
  • Cooperation between primary care physicians and pain management specialists ensures that patients receive appropriate treatments for their pain.
  • An increased understanding of pain helps physicians improve the quality of life for chronic pain patients.
  • Physicians have the power to change the course of their patients’ lives.

For additional educational

and support information,

please visit


  • Americans Talk about Pain, conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates for Research!America, August 2003.
  • Pain in America: A Research Report, conducted by the Gallup Organization for Merck, June 1999.
  • Voices of Chronic Pain, survey released by the American Pain Foundation for Endo Pharmaceutical, June 2006.
  • Stewart, W.F., J.A. Ricci, E. Chee, D. Morganstein, & R. Lipton. “Lost Productive Time and Cost Due to Common Pain Conditions in the U.S. Workforce.” Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 290, No. 18, 2003, p. 2443-2454.
  • National Pain Survey, conducted by Louis Harris and Associates for Ortho-McNeil, 1999.
  • Chronic Pain in America: Roadblocks to Relief, conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide Inc. for the American Pain Society, the American Academy of Pain Medicine, and Janssen Pharmaceutica, January 1999.
  • Voices of Chronic Pain, conducted by American Pain Foundation, May 2006.
  • “JCAHO Focuses on Pain Management,” Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, focuses+on+pain+management.htm.
  • Stamatos, J., Painbuster: A Breakthrough 4-Step Program for Ending Chronic Pain, First Edition, New York, NY: Henry Holt & Company, LLC, 2001.