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Pains Revisited.

OBJECTIVES: The management of pain patients has not evolved as rapidly as envisioned when IASP was founded almost 50 years ago. We sought to identify factors that could contribute to this situation, with a focus on concepts of pain and the education of pain physicians.

METHODS: Relevant literature describing new strategies for diagnosing and managing high impact chronic pain patients was reviewed.

RESULTS: It appears that the acute-chronic dichotomy has outlived its usefulness and pains should be identified as of peripheral origin or due to central processing errors. Pains of peripheral origin and those of central processing errors require different diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.

DISCUSSION: Peripheral treatments and opioids are not effective for central pains. When the cause of the pain lies in the central nervous system, a more centrally focused approach is needed to minimize wasteful pursuit of peripheral causes. The education and training of pain physicians should reflect the skills needed to address these two very different clinical problems.

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