Pain management specialists identified the need for standards of care in the field of pain care when they became aware of the deleterious effects of pain that remained untreated. Pain that has gone untreated or undertreated can have significant impacts on the patient’s quality of life.

A proper assessment of pain is the first step in developing a comprehensive pain treatment plan. In order to assess pain, most physicians will utilize self-reports. Meaning, a physician will rely on the patient’s account of recent activity and description of symptoms. The physician is also likely to take into account the patient’s medical history and will inquire about any previous injuries and other general health problems.

Physicians will conduct a physical examination alongside the oral report, particularly in instances of sports injuries. This exam typically includes an assessment of the individual’s degree of mobility, strength, and flexibility. The physical exam will include an in-depth evaluation including a visual inspection and palpation exam that can involve listening to the heart and lungs, feeling for internal masses, and observe other physical signs of injury.

Other physical exams may be performed, such as the range of motion (ROM) exam. This exam is commonly performed in order to determine the limits of movement before pain is experienced. Other tests can be conducted in order to aid in the physician’s diagnosis, should the diagnosis be uncertain. These assessments can include MRI scans, X-rays, PET scans, CT scans, and MRIs.