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Hand (N Y). 2009 Dec;4(4):344-9. doi: 10.1007/s11552-009-9177-8. Epub 2009 Feb 25.

Evaluation of pain measurement practices and opinions of peripheral nerve surgeons.

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  • 1Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Toronto, 8N-875, 200 Elizabeth Street, Toronto, ON, Canada M5G 2C4. christine.novak@uhn.on.ca

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the opinions and practices of peripheral nerve surgeons regarding assessment and treatment of pain in patients following nerve injury. Surgeons with expertise in upper extremity peripheral nerve injuries and members of an international peripheral nerve society were sent an introductory letter and electronic survey by email (n = 133). Seventy members responded to the survey (49%) and 59 surgeons completed the survey (44%). For patients referred for motor or sensory dysfunction, 31 surgeons (52%) indicated that they always formally assess pain. In patients referred for pain, 44 surgeons (75%) quantitatively assess pain using a verbal scale (n = 24) or verbal numeric scale (n = 36). The most frequent factors considered very important in the development of chronic neuropathic pain were psychosocial factors (64%), mechanism of injury (59%), workers' compensation or litigation (54%), and iatrogenic injury (48%). In patients more than 6 months following injury, surgeons frequently see: cold sensitivity (54%), decreased motor function (42%), paraesthesia or numbness (41%), fear of returning to work (22%), neuropathic pain (20%), and emotional or psychological distress (17%). Only 52% of surgeons who responded to the survey always evaluate pain in patients referred for motor or sensory dysfunction. Pain assessment most frequently includes verbal patient response, and assessment of psychosocial factors is rarely included. Predominately, patient-related factors were considered important in the development of chronic neuropathic pain.

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