Chronic pain patient and anaesthesia
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”
Uppsala University, Department of Surgical Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden
Severe chronic pain is often devastating for the affected individuals causing substantial suffering, health impairment, and a very low quality of life, including significant negative consequences for the patient and for society. Patients with complex pain disorders are seen often in relation to anaesthesia. They deserve special attention and require long time hospitalization and multiple contacts with health-care providers after discharge from hospital. A wider adoption of best perioperative and intraoperative pain management practice is required. This paper reviews current knowledge of perioperative and intraoperative pain management and anaesthetic care of the chronic pain patient. The individual topics covered include the magnitude of the problem created by chronic pain, the management of the patients taking various types of opioids, tolerance and opioid induced hyperalgesia and the multidisciplinary approach to pain management. The preventive
and preemptive strategies for reducing the opioid needs and chronic pain after surgery are reviewed. The last section includes the role of acute pain services and an example of the implementation of a transitional pain service with the various benefits it offers; for example, the decrease of the opioid dose after discharge from the hospital. Patients also receive the continuity of care, with not only pain relief but also improvements in physical functioning, quality of life and emotional stress.
Keywords: pain, chronic pain, anaesthesia, perioperative pain treatment, acute pain services, transitional