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Pain management (also called pain medicine) is the discipline concerned with the relief of pain.
Acute pain, such as occurs with trauma, often has a reversible cause and may require only transient measures and correction of the underlying problem.
In contrast, chronic pain often results from conditions that are difficult to diagnose and treat, and that may take a long time to reverse. Some examples include cancer, neuropathy, and referred pain.
Often, pain pathways (nociceptors) are set up that continue to transmit the sensation of pain even though the underlying condition or injury that originally caused pain has been healed.
In such situations, the pain itself is frequently managed separately from the underlying condition of which it is a symptom, or the goal of treatment is to manage the pain with no treatment of any underlying condition (e.g. if the underlying condition has resolved or if no identifiable source of the pain can be found).
Pain management generally benefits from a multidisciplinary approach that includes pharmacologic measures (analgesics such as narcotics or NSAIDs and pain modifiers such as tricyclic antidepressants or anticonvulsants), non-pharmacologic measures (such as interventional procedures, physical therapy and physical exercise, application of ice and/or heat), and psychological measures (such as biofeedback and cognitive therapy).