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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Tariq M. Malik, MD (University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine)
Description: This is a complete textbook of pain that keeps its focus and wastes no time discussing issues that have no clinical utility like billing or establishing a pain clinic. The last edition was published in 1999 and this edition was certainly needed in view of the changes that have occurred in the field.
Purpose: The main theme of this book has always been the synthesis of basic and clinical science because of the personal experience of the original editors in bench and bedside research, and the current editors have continued that tradition. Chronic pain is still not fully understood and hence it is poorly controlled. Only when pain is better understood at molecular level are new and improved therapies discovered. This book continues to be the source of that missing link between the basic and clinical aspects of pain that is readily available to pain physicians.
Audience: This is best suited for practitioners who deal with pain in any form: acute or chronic, somatic or visceral. In that respect, it is useful for every practitioner, including neurologists, pain physicians, urologists, gastroenterologists or even gynecologists, etc. It is intended to improve the understanding of pain. The contributing authors are well known authorities in their fields.
Features: The book covers the topic of pain in a very logical way. It starts with pain physiology and anatomy in the peripheral and central nervous system. Then it goes on to discuss different pharmacological methods to target different pain conditions based on abnormal physiology. This is followed by discussions of different clinical conditions of pain, namely headache or cancer pain, and their management. The most outstanding features of the book, other than its content, are the color illustrations and the print, which are very pleasing to the eye. Most pain books I am familiar with are very dull, particularly in the discussion of the basic science. The best part of this edition is the online version which is continually updated, so one can always rely on this source. One drawback is the limited material on interventional pain techniques. Interventional pain physicians may find this book less than complete. Another shortcoming is the limited amount of time the book spends on chronic back pain, which consumes 80 percent of the clinical practice of an interventional pain physician.
Assessment: This book does a lot to improve the understanding of pain, but it is not meant to teach procedures in pain management. There are quite a few books available on pain management, including Bonica's Management of Pain, 3rd edition, Loeser et al. (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2001), Practical Management of Pain, 3rd edition, Raj et al. (Mosby, 2000), and Principles and Practice of Pain Medicine, 2nd edition (McGraw-Hill, 2004), by Warfield and Bajwa. These all serve different purposes, whether as a quick read for an exam or just to learn procedures. No book works more at improving the understanding of pain than this one. The book has one theme — applying basic knowledge to clinical situations. It is not based on personal experience or case reports, everything is a scientific fact. The previous edition was six years old and certainly needed to be updated. No less important is the decision to have an online version so that the book never loses its up-to-date quality.