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From The CriticsReviewer: Friedl Pantle-Fisher, MD (University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine)
Description: This is a fairly well-organized and detailed handbook on many aspects of pain and pain management, ranging from the general principles of nociception and the infrequently encountered noninvasive techniques for managing pain, such as complementary therapies, to more specific problem areas such as care of children and the elderly with pain, and the psychological aspects of pain as well as their implications.
Purpose: The book provides the knowledge base required for optimal treatment of pain. Such treatment increasingly is viewed not as a moral issue but as a fundamental right of suffering patients. In recognizing that both acute and chronic pain are complex problems that are still all too often inadequately treated, the authors promote a clear approach to the understanding and management of pain. Their handbook presents a good introduction to the complexities of pain transmission, diagnosis, assessment, and treatment, and engages issues from the psychological aspects of pain to noninvasive techniques and complementary therapies for pain, a topic rarely treated in such detail.
Audience: Those interested in the field of pain management, as well as experienced practitioners, will benefit from the useful information on the diagnosis and treatment of multiple pain conditions contained in the handbook. The well-written sections address all healthcare providers who believe that "managing pain and relieving suffering are at the core of a healthcare professional's commitment."
Features: The book includes tables highlighting important information on topics discussed. However, the section on diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, especially the chapter on neuroanesthetic procedures, is quite short and illustrations are lacking. The pathophysiologic mechanisms of neuropathic pain states are poorly explained, especially those of phantom limb pain, which is frequently encountered in pain practices. On the other hand, the chapter on "Diagnostic Tools in Management of Pain" clearly guides the practitioner through all the steps of a diagnostic approach.
Assessment: This is a good source of information that the pain practitioner and physicians in other fields will need to assess and effectively treat patients with complex pain conditions. It gives a clear understanding of the neuronal basis for the pathophysiologic mechanism of pain transmission and modulation. The chapter on pharmacology of pain could be more comprehensive, particularly concerning antidepressant agents, and the information on pharmacologic agents is scattered throughout different chapters. The book, though, does provide clear guidelines for evaluation and assessment of pain, describing clearly and in welcome detail a broad spectrum of chronic benign and malignant pain syndromes and their respective treatment modalities. The chapters on the "Care of Children and Elderly Patients With Pain" will be especially appreciated.