Pain Management CME: an Integrated and Ethical Approach

Pain management CME

As common as pain management is in medicine, modern trends are revealing that optimal strategies are actually much more complex than previously thought. Safe and effective management of pain that can range from acute to chronic has evolved to include a variety of potential modalities perched atop an expectation for setting realistic pain management goals.

While pain management was once diluted down to standardized prescriptions offered to patients according to what procedure they may have had or the condition they’re suffering from, the reflexive use of opioids created the well-documented problems the industry is combatting today. Thanks to resources like the CDC’s 2022 Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids and pain management CME courses like Chronic Pain - Therapies, Treatment, and Management Options by Premiere, the healthcare industry is gaining traction in the direction of pain management practices that truly optimize patient outcomes.

Pain management is a specialty in itself and the expertise of specialists is crucial, but with pain being one of the most common reasons people seek medical care in the United States, every physician needs to be aware of the best strategies for handling pain. 

Acute and Chronic Pain

Acute and chronic pain issues can be experienced by a spectrum of patient populations, manifesting from any number of underlying issues. In both instances, the use of potentially addictive pharmaceuticals can be immensely beneficial while still carrying significant risks. Each type of pain requires different protocols that vary based on a variety of complicating factors–including patient expectations—that physicians must take into account when developing them.

Acute Pain

Because acute pain is typically the result of trauma or manifests quickly, the risk of addiction is somewhat lower than with chronic pain. When someone is in pain following an injury or recent procedure it’s easier for them to see the light at the end of the tunnel because they know it’s likely their pain will resolve as their body heals. As a result, patients tend to understand pain management as a short-term endeavor and are more willing to participate in activity limitations and adhere to medication regimes. 

Also, post-surgical situations and injuries that require powerful pharmaceuticals tend to be in-patient. Hospital staff is in a position to control and taper potentially addictive substances and directly advise patients about pain management strategies moving forward. Nonetheless, healthcare professionals still need to adhere to responsible protocols and actively monitor patient progress to avoid serious complications. 

Chronic Pain

50 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain, and ongoing management—particularly when the experience is severe—isn’t so cut and dry. Chronic pain can last for months or even years, impacting every aspect of a patient’s physical and mental health. 

Physicians need to work closely with an interprofessional team to manage the various complications that chronic pain entails. In addition to developing pharmaceutical protocols that address pain directly, minimizing the potential for negative consequences requires informing patients about reasonable expectations and providing alternative strategies for optimizing their outcomes in conjunction with traditional modalities. 

Finally, physicians treating patients with chronic pain need to understand the role of opioids in terms of maintaining overall quality of life. In some cases, changing medications or adjusting doses may not be the best answer; the best solution considers a variety of factors, including the patient’s personal and spiritual priorities and practical issues involving close relatives and finances. 

Meaningful Solutions

The medical industry has come a long way over the last decade. While the pain pendulum has swung from prescribing meds for everyone under the sun to trying to draw a hard line in the sand in response to the opioid crisis, modern best practices have settled on a middle ground centered on a holistic understanding of the patient’s well-being. As a result, the best pain management CME offers more comprehensive and highly flexible options than ever before.

Changing Opioid Philosophies

Crucially, both acute and chronic pain management are no longer turning to opioids as the first line of treatment. The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories for injuries and post-procedural pain management has gained significant momentum following great success in keeping people comfortable. This is one great example of meaningful pain management with a bonus of risk mitigation related to the short and long-term effects of opioid use.

Engaging with Patients

Patient education has become a major weapon in the arsenal for pain management. The fact is, there are still plenty of patients out there who automatically think of opioids when it comes to pain. Education on the different types of pain medications and the impact opioid medications can have on their bodies while setting realistic expectations is key.

By giving patients context for their experience, physicians instill resilience, empower people with proactive strategies to avoid pain, and make them active participants in their own experiences. 

For instance, having dental surgery means accepting a certain degree of pain. That’s just the way it is. Having a conversation beforehand, informing the patient what to expect and the role medication will play in their overall recovery can be the difference between multiple requests for powerful medications and an ability to manage the experience. 

Integrated Approach

The medical community has also come to realize the incredible benefits of integrating multiple approaches and modalities into pain management plans. The inclusion of mental health professionals, for example, is a significant component of helping patients achieve optimal outcomes while experiencing chronic pain. This can do wonders for patients coping with alterations in their lifestyles or challenges in their activities of daily living, as well as minimize the risk of preexisting conditions leading to serious consequences. 

Therapies like acupuncture, range of motion therapy, massage therapy, aroma therapies, and behavioral therapies can also be used for clinically appropriate patients. Each represents a unique way to bring in something new to try and the integrated approach often translates to a patient-centered approach.    

Ethics in Pain Management

Although the experience of pain itself appears to be quite equitable across all people, the management of pain is not. Disparities in pain management experienced by women, ethnic minorities, and people of lower socio-economic status have been identified in numerous studies across the U.S.

Different cultural beliefs and expressions can affect how people communicate the pain they are experiencing as well as how they would prefer their pain to be managed. An appreciation and respect for these cultural differences further reinforces the value of a patient-centered approach.

Don’t Miss Out on Your Pain Management CME

Attending time-consuming conferences is one of the most common ways to log CME hours. While they are often in desirable locations, attending a conference means spending hours at lectures on topics that are only partially useful for your practice. 

Premiere recognizes the importance of pain management CME as your professional responsibility and has done most of the work for you. With evidence-based education like Chronic Pain - Therapies, Treatment, and Management Options created by Mary Ellen Biggerstaff DNP, MPH, FNP, and Mastering Pain - Mindful Behavioral Techniques for Enhancing Quality of Life in Chronic Pain Patients by Jenna Lapointe, Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, Mental Health Therapist, Betterhelp, and Megan Arbour, PhD, RN, CNM, CNE, Associate Professor, Frontier Nursing University at your fingertips, maintaining your professional certification is as close as any screen.   

Of course, the networking opportunities provided by conferences are important, as is exploring topics that are critical for your professional practices. By using Premiere’s online CME content to fulfill some requirements, physicians are empowered to maximize their time at in-person professional activities. By securing credits on interesting topics online, you can attend only the most important events and spend more time connecting with colleagues—and that translates into better outcomes for your patients. 

All content by Premiere is created by industry-leading experts, and makes it easy to stay current, compliant, and informed about a range of critical topics in the healthcare industry. 

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