| Chronic pain|
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Editor-in-Chief: Steven D. Feinberg, M.D. Adjunct Clinical Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine, Board Certified, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Board Certified, Electrodiagnostic Medicine, Board Certified, Pain Medicine, Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME)
Chronic pain was originally defined as pain that has lasted 6 months or longer. More recently it has been defined as pain that persists longer than the temporal course of natural healing, associated with a particular type of injury or disease process.
The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as "an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage." It is important to note that pain is subjective in nature and is defined by the person experiencing it, and the medical community's understanding of chronic pain now includes the impact that the mind has in processing and interpreting pain signals.
As a summary;
- Chronic pain is defined as pain that continues beyond the recognized time for the body to heal (usually 4-6 weeks)
- Historically, chronic pain is underdiagnosed, and therefore undertreated
- Chronic pain becomes a disease state itself without a physiologic role
- Depending upon the distribution of symptoms, the pain can be categorized as regional or diffuse
- High rates of psychiatric co-morbidities exist with these conditions
The anatomy of the nociceptive system can be grossly divided into the peripheral and central nervous system. The peripheral nervous system consists of small myelinated and unmyelinated nerve fibers. These nerve fibers converge into a region of the spinal cord referred to as the dorsal horn. The dorsal horn is the first relay station in pain signal transmission. The next element of pain transmission includes nerve fibers that then travel to the thalamus. From the thalamus the next order of neurons ascend to the limbic system and sensory cortex. This accounts for the affective elements and discriminative of pain respectively.
The experience of pain biologically is referred to as nociception. Nociception occurs in any tissue or organ in which pain signals arise secondary to a disease process or trauma. The nociception can also occur if there is dysfunction or damage to nerves themselves.
The Pathophysiology of Chronic Pain
Under persistent activation nociceptive transmission to the dorsal horn may induce a wind up phenomenon. This induces pathological changes that lower the threshold for pain signals to be transmitted. In addition, it may generate nonnociceptive nerve fibers to respond to pain signals. Nonnociceptive nerve fibers may also be able to generate and transmit pain signals. In chronic pain this process is difficult to reverse or eradicate once established.
Nociception (pain) may arise from injury or disease to visceral, somatic and neural structures in the body. More broadly pain is described as malignant or non-malignant in origin.
Pain may be a response to injury or any number of disease states that provoke nociception. Advances in imaging studies and electrophysiological studies allow us to gain a deeper insight into the characteristics and properties associated with the phenomenon of chronic pain.
History and Symptoms
- Detailed surgical and medical history
- Previous treatments/medications
- The effects the symptoms have on the patient's life
- Symptom history should include:
- Associate symptoms
- Alleviating factors
- Aggravating factors
- Thorough physical examination with special attention paid the areas where the symptoms are present (both soft-tissue regions and joints)
- Comprehensive mental status examination:
- Mood of patient
- Individual system evaluation
- The labs may vary depending upon the location of the symptoms, as well as the organs involved.
- Some of which may include:
Electrolyte and Biomarker Studies
Other Imaging Findings
- Similar to lab studies, imaging is symptom specific and should be condition-specific
- Electromyogram (EMG) may be considered depending upon the presentation of symptoms
Chronic Pain Syndrome
Chronic pain may generate other adversities including affective symptoms of depression and anxiety. It may also contribute to decreased physical activity given the apprehension of exacerbating pain. Conversely it may itself have psychosomatic or psychogenic component to its cause.
Differential Diagnosis of Causes of Chronic Pain
- Bony pain secondary to metastasis
- Postradiation mucositis or neuritis
- Visceral pain secondary to mass effects
- Cervical radiculopathy
- Cluster headache
- Migraine headache
- Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome
- Tension headache
Low Back Pain
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Bilateral soft tissue Rheumatism
- Eosinophilia myalgia syndrome
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Psychogenic rheumatism
- Reiter's Syndrome
- Repetitive strain syndromes
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Silicone implants
- Sjogren's Syndrome
- Soft tissue injury
- Cervical radiculopathy
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Phantom limb
- Post-herpetic neuralgia
- Postoperative thoracotomy
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Entrapment neuropathy
- Metabolic bone disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Overuse syndromes
- Paraneoplastic syndrome
- Postviral arthralgia, myalgia
Complete Differential Diagnosis of the causes of Chronic pain
(In alphabetical order)
Complete Differential Diagnosis of the Causes of Chronic pain
(By organ system)
- Occupational and physical therapy is helpful for most conditions associated with chronic pain
- Psychiatric evaluations (and therefore treatment) may be required for patients with co-morbidities and psychiatric conditions
- If necessary, refer patient to a pain specialist
It is rare to completely achieve absolute and sustained relief of pain. Thus, the clinical goal is pain management. Pain management is often multidisciplinary in nature. A recent journal article by Gatchell and Okifuji recognizes the importance of comprehensive pain programs(CPPs) in the management of chronic pain. They summarize their findings as follows: "CPPs offer the most efficacious and cost-effective treatment for persons with chronic pain, relative to a host of widely used conventional medical treatment." 
- For inflammatory diseases, nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) are often used
- For patients with fibromyalgia, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are indicated
- For patients with neuropathic pain, anticonvulsants and tricyclic antidepressants are useful
- Narcotics are used for extreme cases, when conservative measures have otherwise failed (risk of dependence is great, and use is therefore a last resort)
- Tramadol serves as a bridge between the two extremes of treatment (NSAIDs and narcotics)
- Pain medications may be delivered in the spine for patients with reflex sympathetic dystrophy and radicular pain
Opioid medications provide short, intermediate and long acting analgesia depending upon the specific properties of the medication and whether it is formulated as an extended release drug. Opioid medications may be administered orally, by injection, via nasal mucosa or oral mucosa, rectal, transdermal, intravenously, epidurally and intrathecally. In chronic pain conditions that are opioid responsive a combination of a long acting or extended release medication is often prescribed in conjunction with a shorter acting medication for break through pain (exacerbations). Although opioids are strong analgesics, they do not provide complete analgesia regardless of whether the pain is acute or chronic in origin. Opioids are efficacious analgesics in chronic malignant pain and modestly effective nonmalignant pain management. However, there are variable associated adverse effects, especially during the commencement or change in dosing and administration. When opioids are used for prolonged periods drug tolerance, chemical dependency and (rarely) addiction may occur. Chemical dependency is ubiquitous among opioid therapy after continuous administration; however, drug tolerance is not well studied in patients on long term opioid therapy. Addiction rarely occurs as a result of opioid prescription, but they are abused by some individuals, which can cause concern to health care providers. Diversion of opioid medications is another concern for health care providers.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
The other major group of analgesics are Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). This class of medications includes acetaminophen which may be administered as a single medication or in combination with other analgesics. The alternatively prescribed NSAIDs such as ketoprofen and piroxicam, have limited benefit in chronic pain disorders and with long term use is associated with significant adverse effects. The use of selective NSAIDs designated as selective COX-2 inhibitors have significant cardiovascular and cerebrovascular risks which have limited their utilization.
Antidepressants and Antiepileptic drugs
Some antidepressant and antiepileptic drugs are used in chronic pain management and act primarily within the pain pathways of the central nervous system, though peripheral mechanisms have been attributed as well. These mechanisms vary and in general are more effective in neuropathic pain disorders as well as complex regional pain syndrome. Drugs such as Gabapentin have been widely prescribed for the off-label use of pain control. The list of side effects for these classes of drugs are typically much longer than opiate or NSAID treatments for chronic pain, and many antiepileptics cannot be suddenly stopped without the risk of seizure.
Injections, Neuromodulation and Neuroablative Therapy may be used to target either the tissue structures and organ/systems responsible for persistent nociception or the nerves conveying nociception from the structures implicated as the source of chronic pain.
- Further information: Physical medicine and rehabilitation
As alluded to earlier there are other modalities used in the treatment of chronic pain. These include: physical modalities such as thermal agents and electrotherapy. Complementary and alternative medicine, therapeutic exercise and behavioral therapy are also utilized autonomously or in tandem with interventional techniques and conventional pharmacotherapy. This is most often structured in a multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary program.
Chronic pain patients are often misdiagnosed. Patients are often ignored, and their pain dismissed as imaginary. Patients, particularly the ones prescribed opioids, are often labeled as drug addicts. Furthermore, chronic pain patients in the United States and other countries, continue to encounter problems caused by their governments' war on illegal drugs (examples include but are not limited to: red tape in applying for/renewal of special prescription pads; government-mandated limits and excessive regulations for hospitals and drugstores; etc.).
- Carol A. Warfield: Principles & Practice of Pain Management 1st edition, McGraw-Hill Professional 2004<b/>
- John D. Loeser: Bonica's Management of Pain 3rd edition, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2001
- ↑ Shipton EA, Tait B (2005). "Flagging the pain: preventing the burden of chronic pain by identifying and treating risk factors in acute pain". European journal of anaesthesiology 22 (6): 405-12. PMID 15991501.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Merskey H (1994). "Logic, truth and language in concepts of pain". Quality of life research : an international journal of quality of life aspects of treatment, care and rehabilitation 3 Suppl 1: S69-76. PMID 7866375.
- ↑ Romanelli P, Esposito V (2004). "The functional anatomy of neuropathic pain". Neurosurg. Clin. N. Am. 15 (3): 257-68. PMID 15246335.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Vanderah TW (2007). "Pathophysiology of pain". Med. Clin. North Am. 91 (1): 1-12. PMID 17164100.
- ↑ Vadivelu N, Sinatra R (2005). "Recent advances in elucidating pain mechanisms". Current opinion in anaesthesiology 18 (5): 540-7. PMID 16534290.
- ↑ Dunckley P, Wise RG, Fairhurst M, Hobden P, Aziz Q, Chang L, Tracey I (2005). "A comparison of visceral and somatic pain processing in the human brainstem using functional magnetic resonance imaging". J. Neurosci. 25 (32): 7333-41. PMID 16093383.
- ↑ Geha PY, Apkarian AV (2005). "Brain imaging findings in neuropathic pain". Current pain and headache reports 9 (3): 184-8. PMID 15907256.
- ↑ Turton AJ, McCabe CS, Harris N, Filipovic SR (2007). "Sensorimotor integration in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: a transcranial magnetic stimulation study". Pain 127 (3): 270-5. PMID 17011705.
- ↑ Pruimboom L, van Dam AC (2007). "Chronic pain: a non-use disease". Med. Hypotheses 68 (3): 506-11. PMID 17071012.
- ↑ Sarno, John et. al. (2006). The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders. New York: ReganBooks, 11-18. ISBN 0-06-085178-3.
- ↑ Henningsen P, Zipfel S, Herzog W (2007). "Management of functional somatic syndromes". Lancet 369 (9565): 946-55. PMID 17368156.
- ↑ Stanos S, Houle TT (2006). "Multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary management of chronic pain". Physical medicine and rehabilitation clinics of North America 17 (2): 435-50, vii. PMID 16616276.
- ↑ Munir MA, Enany N, Zhang JM (2007). "Nonopioid analgesics". Med. Clin. North Am. 91 (1): 97-111. PMID 17164106.
- ↑ Ballantyne JC (2006). "Opioids for chronic nonterminal pain". South. Med. J. 99 (11): 1245-55. PMID 17195420.
- ↑ Jackson KC (2006). "Pharmacotherapy for neuropathic pain". Pain practice : the official journal of World Institute of Pain 6 (1): 27-33. PMID 17309706.
- ↑ Varrassi G, Paladini A, Marinangeli F, Racz G (2006). "Neural modulation by blocks and infusions". Pain practice : the official journal of World Institute of Pain 6 (1): 34-8. PMID 17309707.
- ↑ Meglio M (2004). "Spinal cord stimulation in chronic pain management". Neurosurg. Clin. N. Am. 15 (3): 297-306. PMID 15246338.
- ↑ Rasche D, Ruppolt M, Stippich C, Unterberg A, Tronnier VM (2006). "Motor cortex stimulation for long-term relief of chronic neuropathic pain: a 10 year experience". Pain 121 (1-2): 43-52. PMID 16480828.
- ↑ Boswell MV, Trescot AM, Datta S, Schultz DM, Hansen HC, Abdi S, Sehgal N, Shah RV, Singh V, Benyamin RM, Patel VB, Buenaventura RM, Colson JD, Cordner HJ, Epter RS, Jasper JF, Dunbar EE, Atluri SL, Bowman RC, Deer TR, Swicegood JR, Staats PS, Smith HS, Burton AW, Kloth DS, Giordano J, Manchikanti L (2007). "Interventional techniques: evidence-based practice guidelines in the management of chronic spinal pain" (PDF). Pain physician 10 (1): 7-111. PMID 17256025.
- ↑ Romanelli P, Esposito V, Adler J (2004). "Ablative procedures for chronic pain". Neurosurg. Clin. N. Am. 15 (3): 335-42. PMID 15246341.
- ↑ Geertzen JH, Van Wilgen CP, Schrier E, Dijkstra PU (2006). "Chronic pain in rehabilitation medicine". Disability and rehabilitation 28 (6): 363-7. PMID 16492632.
- American Chronic Pain Association
- Patient consumer web page sponsored by the APS
- American Pain Foundation
- International Association for the Study of Pain- IASP
Symptoms and signs: respiratory system (R04–R07, 786)
|; Respiratory sounds:
|Chest, general||* Chest pain|
Symptoms and signs: digestive system and abdomen (R10–R19, 787,789)
|Abdominal – general|
Symptoms and signs: skin and subcutaneous tissue (R20-R23, 782)
|Disturbances of skin sensation||Hypoesthesia - Paresthesia - Hyperesthesia|
|Other||Rash - Cyanosis - Pallor - Flushing - Petechia - Desquamation - Induration - Diaphoresis|
Symptoms and signs: nervous and musculoskeletal systems (R25-R29, 781)
|Abnormal involuntary movements|
(see also movement disorders)
|Tremor - Spasm - Fasciculation - Athetosis|
|Gait abnormality||Scissor gait - Antalgic gait - Cerebellar ataxia - Festinating gait - Pigeon gait - Propulsive gait - Steppage gait - Stomping gait - Spastic gait - Myopathic gait - Magnetic gait - Trendelenburg gait|
|Lack of coordination||Ataxia (Cerebellar ataxia, Sensory ataxia) - Dysmetria - Dysdiadochokinesia - Hypotonia|
|Other||Tetany - Meningism - Hyperreflexia - Opisthotonus - Abnormal posturing - Hemispatial neglect|
Symptoms and signs: urinary system (R30-R39, 788)
|General||Renal colic - Dysuria - Vesical tenesmus - Urinary incontinence - Urinary retention - Oliguria - Polyuria - Nocturia - Extravasation of urine - Extrarenal uremia|
Symptoms and signs: cognition, perception, emotional state and behaviour (R40-R46, 780-781)
|General||Anxiety - Somnolence - Coma - Amnesia (Anterograde amnesia, Retrograde amnesia) - Dizziness/Vertigo|
|Olfaction||Anosmia - Parosmia|
|Taste||Ageusia - Parageusia|
Symptoms and signs: Speech and voice (R47-R49, 784)
|Aphasia/Dysphasia||Expressive aphasia - Receptive aphasia - Conduction aphasia|
|Other speech disturbances||Dysarthria - Schizophasia|
|Symbolic dysfunctions||Dyslexia - Alexia - Agnosia (Prosopagnosia) - Apraxia - Acalculia - Agraphia|
|Voice disturbances||Dysphonia - Aphonia|
Symptoms and signs: general (R50-R69, 780-789)
|General||Fever (Hyperpyrexia) - Headache - Chronic pain - Malaise/Fatigue (Asthenia, Debility) - Fainting (Vasovagal syncope) - Febrile seizure - Shock (Cardiogenic shock) - Lymphadenopathy - Edema (Peripheral edema, Anasarca) - Hyperhidrosis (Sleep hyperhidrosis) - Delayed milestone - Failure to thrive - Short stature (Idiopathic) - food and fluid intake (Anorexia, Polydipsia, Polyphagia) - Cachexia - Xerostomia - Clubbing - Tenderness|
Symptoms and signs: Symptoms concerning nutrition, metabolism and development (R62–R64, 783)
|Growth||Delayed milestone • Failure to thrive • Short stature (e.g., Idiopathic)|
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