Module 3: Assessment

Lesson 2

Acute pain: Comprehensive assessment

Once the cause of acute pain is identified, the methods of assessing and treating it differ slightly from chronic pain. If the cause of acute pain cannot be determined, treatment is required even though its etiology continues to be investigated.

Assessment of acute pain is undertaken at regular intervals to evaluate intensity, functional impact and any adverse effects of treatment. Adjustments are made to the management of acute pain based on these frequent assessments.

Pain condition

The assessment of acute pain includes:

  • Identification of the site of the pain (primary location, radiation)
  • Circumstances associated with pain onset (e.g., trauma, surgery)
  • Character of the pain (sensory descriptors, e.g., use McGill Pain Questionnaire], neuropathic pain characteristics, e.g., use DN4, S-LANSS)
  • Intensity of the pain at rest andwith movement
  • Timing of the pain (duration, frequency, current/last week/highest level, continuous or intermittent)
  • Aggravating or relieving factors
  • Associated symptoms (e.g., nausea)
  • Effects of pain on activities and sleep