Pain assessments are a huge part of nursing, chronic pain, acute pain, we see it all. It was surprising for me to learn that 1 in 5 Aussies suffer from chronic pain, thats huge numbers!! I didn't realise that so many people in Australia had chronic pain, so I'm guessing it is coming as a shock to some of you as well. This is why Pain Australia is running a campaign for the Federal Government to make pain a national health priority, you can check it out here.
I've been doing a bit of research lately on pain management and a few things have stood out to me. One is pain assessments. Nurses are doing pain assessments all the time it feels like, especially with 'Pain as the 5th vital sign' initiative. But a lot of the time, we are only finding out the patients pain intensity. This is great, because we can then see if our pain management strategies are working, but if that person has chronic pain or neuropathic pain, we need to be finding out other things in our assessment as well. I've recently written an article for Ausmed on pain assessments which you can find here.
Chronic pain isn't only about the pain, it's about how the pain is affecting that individual. Chronic pain, if uncontrolled has so many negative side effects. It impacts on the individuals sleep, their cognitive processes, mood, mental health, physical function, sexual function and their overall quality of life. Therefore our assessments need to reflect this. The article 'Long term consequences of chronic pain: mounting evidence for pain as a neurological disease and parallels with other chronic disease states' is a pretty interesting read and gives a different prospective on how we should look at chronic pain.
There are so many resources available to nurses. One that I have found is a website called PainEDU, the link is here. It regularly publishes articles on the latest advances in pain management, has interactive case studies and aims to educate health professionals. If you check out the 'Tools' section, it has some great publications including a Pain Management Manual. A word of warning though, if you go to print the manual, its huge!! But well worth the paper:)
Like I mentioned before, I'm a bit obsessed about pain and pain management at the moment, so I would say that I'll be doing another post on it soon! So if you have any questions or anything you want to know a bit more about, let me know.