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Pain management in current combat operations.

Pain management in the U.S. Military, particularly in combat, shares many of the same principles found in civilian heath care organizations and institutions. Pain is one of the most common reasons for which soldiers seek medical attention in the combat environment, which mirrors the civilian experience. However, the combat environment exacerbates the typical challenges found in treating acute pain and has the additional obstacles of a lack of supplies and equipment, delayed or prolonged evacuation times and distances, devastating injuries, provider inexperience, and dangerous tactical situations. These factors contribute to the difficulty in controlling a soldier's pain in combat. Furthermore, civilian health care providers have also learned the importance of practicing pain management principles in austere and tactical environments because of recent natural and man-made domestic disasters. Pain management research, education, and treatment strategies have been created to try to achieve adequate battlefield analgesia, and these lessons learned may aid civilian health care providers if the circumstances arise. This article presents a brief history and current overview of pain management for combat casualties on today's battlefield. Recent natural disasters and increased threats for terrorist acts have proven the need for civilian health care providers to be properly trained in pain management principles in an austere or tactical environment.

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