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Acute Pain And Chronic Pain Nursing Essay

Management of pain is very important in the medical setting. An excellent assessment of pain is essential to identify the kind of pain and cause of the pain. It is a subjective experience and therefore there is a necessity of individualised pain management. Pain comes with an inter-relationship with the personal injury response and has physiological and internal effects on the individual. These effects can lead to a poorer final result in the individual therefore optimal pain management is important. Multi-modal pain management works well and the pathophysiology of pain helps understand the utilization of different analgesic drugs.

Acute Pain and Chronic Pain

The International Association of the study of pain has identified pain as 'an unpleasant sensory and psychological experience associated with real or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such destruction' (Merskey & Bogduk, 1994). Pain can be nociceptive pain or neuropathic pain. . Nociceptive pain could be somatic or visceral pain where somatic pain is usually described as a distinct, hot, stinging, well localised pain associated with local tenderness. Visceral pain is dreary, cramping and colicky pain that is often poorly localised (Scott & McDonald, 2008). It is important to identify the reason for pain as it will help with effective individualised pain management. Neuropathic pain is 'pain initiated or the effect of a principal lesion or dysfunction in the anxious system' (Loeser & Treede, 2008). These types of pain can be either severe or serious pain. Within the acute pain establishing nociceptive pain is predominant but some patients may also present with neuropathic pain (Gray, 2008). Acute pain can be defined as 'pain of recent onset and probable limited length. It usually comes with an identifiable temporal and causal marriage to harm or disease'. Acute agony provides an important biological function. There exists increasing research that recognizing acute agony early on and effectively will postpone or prevent the acute pain sliding into persistent pain or health issues. As opposed to acute pain, chronic pain may provide no useful purpose. Chronic pain 'commonly persists beyond enough time of treatment of a personal injury and sometimes there might not exactly be any plainly identifiable cause' (Ready & Edwards, 1992). It possibly could cause extreme emotional, physical monetary and social strains upon the patient, the family and modern culture.

Pathophysiology of pain

'Nociception can be defined as the neural process that underlies the encoding and processing of noxious stimuli' (Loeser & Treede, 2008). The somatosensory system is able to find the stimuli that are noxious and probably tissue-damaging and for that reason, provides as an important protective system. The somatosensory system will involve multiple peripheral and central mechanisms which interact.

Pain is a subjective experience that is affected by mental health and environmental factors in each individual. The amount of pain a particular stimulus creates will depend on many factors other than the stimulus itself and then the sensation of pain is multifactorial (Eccleston, 2001).

Two major components can be distinguished in the pathological talk about of pain. They will be the peripheral nociceptors that are activated by the noxious stimulus and the central mechanisms by which the afferent insight generates a experience of pain.

Peripheral nociceptors-

To discover a noxious stimulus the peripheral sensory organs (nociceptors) need to be activated and, transduced action potentials need to be conducted to the central stressed system. The nociceptive afferent nerve fibres can be found throughout your body, including the pores and skin, muscle, joints, viscera and meninges. Many of these afferent fibres are the non-myelinated slow conducting, small diameter, C fibres. Others are the myelinated, medium diameter A fibres which conduct quicker. The C fibre afferents react to mechanical, thermal and chemical type stimuli. A number of receptors like the transient receptor potential vanilloid receptor 1 (TRPV1) (Patapoutian et al, 2009), acid- sensing ion programs (ASICs) and potassium stations react to different noxious stimuli (Woolf & Ma, 2007). Endogenous modulators of the nociceptors include proteinases, pro-inflammatory cytokines, anti-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. These may also become signalling molecules in the pain pathway. Illness, irritation or ischaemia triggers tissue damage leading to the release of local mediators by cell disruption, degranulation of mast skin cells or by the inflammatory cells which results in the immediate activation of the nociceptors or sensitization of the nociceptors via ligand gated ion stations or metabatropic receptors.

Within the dorsal horn inhibitory modulation could also take place via non-nociceptive peripheral inputs, local inhibitory GABAergic and glycinergic interneurons, descending bulbospinal projections, and higher order brain function such as distraction and cognitive type. These inhibitory mechanisms exert their result through neurotransmitters such as endorphins, enkephalins, noradrenaline and serotonin.

Pain relief may be accomplished by either reducing the excitatory transmission by using brokers such as local anaesthetics and ketamine or by improving the inhibition with agents such as opioids, clonidine and antidepressants.

Central Pathway-

There are two primary ascending nociceptive pathways present. The spinomescenphalic tracts that originate from profound in the dorsal horn and task to the medulla and brainstem and play an important role in integrating the nociceptive information as well as arousal, homeostatic and autonomic reactions. They also project to central areas which are concerned with discrimination of pain and also mediate the mental element of pain. The spinobrachial pathway which originates from the superficial dorsal horn feeds areas with the mind that are involved with the affective and motivational component of pain.

Acute Pain and the personal injury response

Acute pain is one of the factors that mediates the activation of the complicated neurohumoral and immune system response to harm. The peripheral and central responses to injury subsequently have a major effect on the mechanisms of acute pain. Thus there is an inter-relationship between acute pain and injury of course, if the personal injury response is prolonged there can be a negative influence on the outcome.

The response to noxious stimuli that occurs in personal injury or disease is because multiple relationships between different neural systems and mental health factors. The interactions of the sensory, motivational and cognitive techniques act on the engine systems and produce the intricate physiological behavior, and affective responses which characterize acute pain.

Generally the immediate response consists of:

An involuntary response which involves the segmental and suprasegmental reflex response that really helps to usually protect homeostasis which is manifested by the -

Contraction or spasm of the skeletal muscles

Increased glandular, vasomotor and sudomotor activity

Changes in the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, alterations in the visceral functions and a wide-spread and general endocrine response.

A cerebral cortical response which includes the emotional connection with pain, psychodynamic replies which produce affective reactions such as anxiousness, apprehension and general responses that happen to be characteristic of acute agony.

The immediate response will also entail the release of local mediators that will lead to biochemical and metabolic changes that will reduce the threshold of the nociceptors and cause local tenderness and hyperalgesia.

Pain is finally an psychological response which requires awareness. During general anaesthesia the individual who reacts to the surgical incisions made by moving, by an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, or modifying the respiratory design is not sense the pain but is producing reflexes to the noxious stimuli. Some reflex replies to noxious stimuli (extreme excitement of the mesentery) can be only be suppressed by standard anaesthesia. Muscle relaxants are able to control the reflex muscle moves but are unable to reduce the circulatory, respiratory system and endocrine respond to damage. Regional anaesthesia is able to suppress these reflex replies by disrupting the afferent and efferent limbs of the reflexes.

Systematic effects of pain

Experiments have shown that pain in the lack of injury is associated with a hormonal/metabolic response which included increased degrees of cortisol, catecholamines and glucagon in addition to a decrease in level of sensitivity to insulin (Greisen et al, 2001). It is believed that there is a correlation between your magnitude of pain induced by tissue damage and the activation of the sympathetic systems which include the activation of the cardiomotor neurones, vasoconstrictor neurones which innervate the level of resistance vessels, sudomotor neurones and sympathetic pre ganglionic neurons that innervate the adrenal medulla. Because of this activation of the sympathetic system there is an upsurge in the heart rate, arterial blood circulation pressure, cutaneous conductance, and levels of plasma norepinephrine or epinephrine. This assumption was derived by the actual fact that experiments have shown that graded noxious stimuli shows a graded activation of the various functional sympathetic neurons.

The activation of the sympathetic efferent anxious systmen by pain and the subsequent increase in heart rate, inotropy and blood pressure increases the myocardial oxygen demand. There is also a decrease in the myocardial oxygen supply. This escalates the risk in cardiac ischaemia especially in patients with pre-existing cardiac disease.

The improved sympathetic activity also influences the gastrointestinal system and ends up with reducd gastrointestinal motility which contributes to post-operative ileus. The wide-spread influence on the gut and urinary tract motility may lead to create operative ileus, nausea, throwing up and urinary retention.

Severe pain that is present after upper abs and thoracic surgery may add widespread changes in pulmonary function, and increase in abdominal muscle build and an associated decrease in diaphragmatic function. This might result in an failure to cough and clear lung secretions which may lead to lung atelectasis and pneumonia. A decrease in useful residual capacity may lead to ventilation-perfusion abnormalities and hypoxaemia.

The reaction to harm also suppresses the mobile and humoral immune system function and contributes to a hypercoagulable express following surgery. Prolonged pain can reduce physical exercise and lead to venous stasis and increased risk of deep vein thrombosis and consequent pulmonary embolism.

Acute pain after surgery, as stated above, is said to be an activator of the sympathetic stress response but a recently available research done by Ledowski et al. , shows that as opposed to common belief the severe nature of postoperative pain will not may actually have an association with the amount of sympathetic stress response after surgery. The mean arterial pressure, heartrate, respiration rate, plasma levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine were measured and they revealed no relationship with the speed of pain. It had been therefore importantly explained that the lack of sympathetic stimulation does not guarantee that there is no pain (Ledowski et al. , 2012).

Importance of Acute Pain management

Patients at a higher risk of complications from unrelieved acute agony include very young or older patients, patients with co morbidities and the ones who are considering major surgery (Liu & Wu, 2008).

Effective acute pain alleviation is of great importance to anyone who's treating patients considering surgery. Pain relief should be performed specifically for humanitarian reasons and for the comfort of patient but as pain has a physiological impact pain relief has been shown to truly have a significant physiological effect. Effective pain relief means enhanced restoration which means patients recover from surgery more quickly and ends up with earlier release from clinic. Patients are able to job application their normal daily lifestyle quicker and addititionally there is reduction in the onset of persistent pain syndromes (Fawcett et al. , 2012).

If acute agony is not relieved it can affect the patient psychologically as well. It may bring about increased anxiety, lack of ability to sleep, demoralisation, loss of control and feeling of hopelessness (Cousins et al. , 2004).

The goal of pain management is to reduce or get rid of the pain and discomfort and must look at the needs of the patient. The best determinant of enough pain relief would be the patient's perception of pain.


Multimodal management of pain

The responsibility for recognizing and managing acute agony lies within the complete medical team. The acute pain team provides leadership, education and onward planning as well as assistance with the management of more complex problems. The responsibility for handling more easy pain conditions would lie generally with the doctors and nurses on the ward.

Patients vulnerable to more severe acute pain are patients with pre-existing persistent pain, those taking strong opioid analgesics, people that have high degrees of anxiety and who've had a prior poor pain experience.

The world health organization has introduced the idea of the analgesic ladder (Body 1) in which paracetamol is employed with or without non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in the beginning, then weaker opioids such as codeine and then strong opioids such as morphine are being used. This model is exquisite for conditions where the pain intensity gradually increases as time passes but might not be very befitting conditions where the acute agony is expected to decrease over a brief period of energy. In such situations the inverse of this approach could be utilized where a amount of different drugs are used at first and the more potent analgesics which often have more side results are tapered off and discontinued as the depth of the pain decreases (Vickers 2010).

Figure 1: The WHO analgesic ladder

Analgesics can be split into three main communities. Paracetamol, the NSAIDs and Cyclo-oxygenase (COX) 2 inhibitors ('Coxibs'), and the opioids. The term opioids include the naturally behaving opioids such as morphine, the man-made opioids such as fentanyl as well as the endogenous opioids like the endomorphins. The concept of multi-modal analgesia is employed when a blend of drugs which have a different device of action may be used to maximize the pain control with minimum amount amount of aspect effects. The blend of tramadol and paracetamol synergistically action together to provide a greater result. (Amount 2)

Figure 2: The efficacy of different analgesic by itself and in combo with other analgesics

Paracetamol which can be an anti pyretic and analgesic medicine has no anti-inflammatory actions. It is known to respond via the central anxious system and has results on COX pathways, stimulates descending inhibitory pathways via serotonin and inhibits compound P. Paracetamol is usually approved either alone or in combination to all patients who have no contraindications and also have post operative pain.

NSAIDs action via inhibiting the cyclo-oxygenase enzyme which catalyses the transformation of arachidonic acid to prostaglandins. Their strong analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects as well as their relatively common adverse effects are because of this action. The NSAIDs that are most commonly used for post-operative pain in the united kingdom are ibuprofen and diclofenac.

NSAIDs have lots of side effects such as inhibition of platelet aggregation, connection with other anticoagulants, peptic ulceration and bleeding, exacerbation of asthma and renal impairment. The inhibition of platelet aggregation ends up with an extended bleeding time but do not impact the prothrombin time or the activated partial thromboplastin time.

The influence on platelet function may complicate other anticoagulants such as warfarin or heparin. NSAIDs are able to displace warfarin bound to plasma protein further inhibiting coagulation therefore NSAIDs are approved with extreme caution to patients getting other anticoagulants. NSAIDs are prevented in patients with peptic ulcers or a past history of peptic ulcer bleeding. Roughly 5% of asthmatic patients exhibit aspirin-induced asthma and there maybe some cross-reactivity with NSAIDs therefore they are being used with extreme care in asthmatics who've not been prescribed NSAIDs before. Prostaglandins play role in maintaining the blood flow to the kidneys and therefore NSAIDs in healthy patients may briefly have an impact on kidney function. NSAIDs should be avoided or recommended cautiously in patients who've kidney dysfunction or are at risk of producing kidney dysfunction (Vickers 2010).

The cyclo-oxygenase prevails in two varieties namely, COX1 and COX2. The constitutive form of the enzyme is COX1 which retains the standard functions of prostaglandins such as platelet aggregation, coverage of the gastric mucosa and perfusion of the kidneys. The inducible form which is COX2 is brought on by stimuli such as tissue injury which is accountable for the irritation and pain caused by prostaglandins. Selective inhibitors of COX2 were discovered and were not proven to have the medial side effects from the COX inhibitors but it was uncovered they have an increased risk of myocardial infarction or heart stroke in high risk patients.

Codeine is the most commonly used fragile opioid. Since codeine is a prodrug of morphine and needs to be converted into the dynamic analgesic in the gut in a proportion of the populace codeine may have little if any analgesic result. Tramadol, although regarded as an opioid analgesic has only a fragile influence on the mu opioid receptors and for that reason less respiratory depression than seen with morphine. Tramadol comes with an inhibitory effect on the re-uptake of both noradrenaline and seronin therefore works more effectively in neuropathic pain when compared to 100 % pure opioids. Nausea, vomiting dizziness and drowsiness are normal side effects seen with Tramadol.

Strong opioids are used to control severe pain and morphine is usually the first choice in most of patients. Side effects of opioids include sedation, nausea, vomiting and constipation. A significant side effect of opioids is respiratory melancholy and the combination of respiratory major depression and increasing level of sedation functions as a warning sign. Morphine can be given intermittently as a part of the multimodal management of pain. Patient manipulated analgesia (PCA) has often been shown to own better treatment than the intramuscular delivery of opioids.

Adjuncts to these major classes of analgesic drugs may be local anaesthetics, ketamine and gabapentinoids.


The effect of analgesic drugs vary greatly from patient to patient and the response cannot be predicted. Studies have shown that the health care team which include doctors and nurses overestimate the length of action of the medication and the effectiveness of the drug, and also have concerns over part effects, regarding opioids vomiting, sedation and dependency, therefore under-treating acute agony especially in the post-operative setting up. Improvement may be accomplished by better education for any staff worried about the delivery of postoperative treatment and by making the assessment and recording of pain levels part of the routine management of every patient.

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