ASA: The multidimensional practice of pain medicine

A guest column by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, exclusive to

by Richard W. Rosenquist, MD

Pain affects an estimated 75 million Americans, according to the American Pain Foundation. Pain management by unqualified providers can present serious risks to patients due to the complexities involved in diagnosing and treating pain. The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) recently revised its Statement on Interventional Pain Medicine to ensure patients who suffer from pain receive the safest care possible.

The ASA statement includes an overview of the education and training physicians who choose to specialize in pain must complete, including four years of medical school, four years of residency training in a primary medical specialty and one year of a pain fellowship. Physicians are then able to enter the examination process leading to board-certification in Pain Medicine.

Decades of research by anesthesiologists have led to the development of newer, more effective treatments for pain. Today, treatment of chronic pain begins with a detailed medical evaluation performed by the physician. The physician will obtain the patient’s medical history, perform a complete physical examination and evaluate diagnostic imaging and laboratory testing results. In most cases, treatment plans will be multidimensional and multidisciplinary to address multiple facets of pain.

There are many treatment options for pain, which range from medical management, physical therapy and psychological therapy to interventional therapies and other alternative medical treatments. These treatments can be risky and require the skill of anesthesiologists or other physicians who possess the training and knowledge to provide safe, competent and appropriate care.

ASA encourages patients who suffer from pain to speak with their anesthesiologist to learn about the best treatment plan for them. To learn more about pain medicine, please visit Anesthesiologists in Pain Medicine.

Richard Rosenquist is Chair of the Committee on Pain Medicine at the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

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