What is a Pain Management Nurse?

Depending on how it manifests, the type of pain that patients experience for any number of reasons are formally categorized as one of two distinct classifications of pain: chronic pain and acute pain. Pain management nurses are trained to provide patients with care methods that are accurately designed for either chronic or acute pain, according to Discover Nursing.

Chronic Versus Acute Pain

Chronic pain is an ongoing, oftentimes slow-developing sensation of pain that may either fluctuate in intensity or remain unmitigated. Many cases of chronic pain are experienced without being triggered by any specific injury or impact. Acute pain, unlike chronic pain, has a specifically identifiable cause and emerges immediately after said cause has occured.

Unique cases of chronic and acute pain have many different potentially critical factors for medical examiners to account for in order to understand them fully. Sharp acute pain caused by a sudden break due to poor bone mineral density after years of painless structural degradation in the bones would, naturally, have to be treated differently than dull chronic pain potentially indicate higher risk of future injuries.

Addressing Acute and Chronic Pain Distinctions for Proper Management

Pain management nurses are trained to identify the subtle overlap that there may be between chronic pain and acute pain in a single patient experiencing them both. Chronic pain could be the precursor to imminent acute pain, which a pain management nurse could then help avert with timely preventative care.

Acute pain from insufficiently-treated injuries may occasionally persist in a pattern that resembles chronic pain, and a pain management nurse will be able to determine where the distinctions lie in order to determine the most accurate treatment approach and prognosis. While acute pain can be directly tied to a presently unhealed injury, chronic pain requires more thorough examination.

Because chronic pain lingers for a far longer amount of time than acute pain and is usually more ambiguous in its origin, pain management nurses must approach its examination both tentatively and thoroughly at the same time. Ideally, a pain management nurse can assess the resilience of chronic pain and determine its most likely source; after this, they are more capable of correctly determining whether permanent relief or ongoing mitigation is a more feasible treatment goal.

Facilitating Better Lifestyle Quality

The acute and/or chronic pain that patients experience not only hinders them physically, but also be profoundly mentally taxing as well. By managing patients’ pain in the most effective manner and keeping patients’ spirits up, pain management nurses can play a vital role in keeping a patient’s condition from being exacerbated by physiological effects of stress and depression.

While it may not be possible for a pain management nurse to independently terminate a source of pain entirely, their care can instill in a patients both a higher sense of morale and more practical methods for mitigating the pain’s effect on their lifestyle.

Related Resource: What is a Case Management Nurse?

Requirements for Becoming a Pain Management Nurse

The most common starting point for a pain management nurse’s career is to specifically acquire a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After the graduate has received their license, practiced as a registered nurse for 2,000 hours, and attained at least 30 hours of continuing education units in nursing, they’ll be eligible to apply for pain management certification through the American Society for Pain Management Nursing.