Chronic Pain


Chronic Pain, Chronic Nonmalignant Pain

  • Definitions
  1. Chronic Pain
    1. Pain that persists beyond expectations and is independent of the original cause
  • Approach
  • Counseling
  1. Explain to patient
    1. Both physical and psychological causes of pain (see Pain Physiology)
    2. Difficult to distinguish what causes what
    3. Chronic Pain differs from acute pain
      1. Chronic Pain has no physiologic purpose
      2. Chronic Pain does not improve with tissue recovery
  2. Use gate control theory to discuss Chronic Pain
    1. Discuss role of mood and emotion in pain blocking
    2. Discuss with family and patient
  • Causes
  1. See Diffuse Musculoskeletal Pain Causes
  2. Musculoskeletal pain accounts for 80% of Chronic Pain
  • Evaluation
  • Protocol
  • Understand why the patient presents at this time
  1. Increased concern about potential serious illness
  2. Increased environmental stressors
  3. Worsening functional capacity
    1. Decreased physical activities (walking or sleeping)
    2. Decreased psychological well-being (mood or energy)
    3. Decreased social activities (relationships)
    4. Roles (work)
  4. Worsening of psychiatric illness
  5. Termination of prior physician-patient contract
    1. History of "doctor shopping"
    2. Frustration and anger of previous "ineffective care"
    3. High expectations for help from the new provider
  6. Hidden agenda
    1. Narcotic seeking
    2. Disability
    3. Sick-role privilege
    4. Legitimize illness to family and coworkers
  • Protocol
  • Explore concurrent psychosocial Factors
  1. History of loss (death or divorce)
  2. Prior Traumatic life events
  3. Physical or sexual abuse history
  4. Concurrent psychiatric illness
    1. Major Depression
    2. Anxiety Disorder
    3. Somatization Disorder
    4. Alcoholism or Drug Abuse
    5. Malingering
  5. Abnormal illness behaviors (see Somatization)
    1. Disability out of proportion to disease
    2. Persistent search for underlying organic disease
    3. Assign responsibility for illness to physician
    4. Sense of entitlement for care by others
    5. Behaviors to maintain the sick-role
  • Protocol
  • Understand patient's concerns and expectations
  1. What does the patient think is causing the pain?
  2. What about the pain does the patient fear?
  3. What does the patient expect from the physician?
  4. What are patient's expectations in context of culture?
  • Protocol
  • Understand patient's resources
  1. Social supports not centered around illness
    1. Family and Friends
    2. Work and community organizations (e.g. Churches)
  2. Coping strategies
  • Management
  • Prognosis
  1. Poor Prognostic Factors
    1. High frequency of physical complaints (Somatization)
    2. Long history of frequent healthcare visits
  2. Good Prognostic Factors suggestive of recovery
    1. Brief history of Chronic Pain (<2 years)
    2. No underlying psychiatric disorder
    3. Followed by primary care physicians