A new free resource is available for AAFP members who care for patients with chronic pain. The AAFP Chronic Pain Toolkit, developed by the Academy with partial funding from a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant and published online in February, provides family physicians with an assortment of items to aid in the effective assessment, diagnosis and management of chronic pain.
“Addressing pain is complicated. There are a lot of gray areas in treating pain, and a one-size-fits-all approach does not work,” said Lynn Fisher, M.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita, and director of the rural preceptorship. “This toolkit provides us with a variety of tools that we can use to help us manage chronic pain patients and to help us follow the best available evidence at this time.”
Although the exact number of people who experience chronic pain is unknown, a 2018 study published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report estimated that in 2016, just over 20% of all U.S. adults had chronic pain. Effective chronic pain management may be challenging, and evidence-based tools and resources such as the toolkit may help FPs and other primary care clinicians approach pain management in a multidimensional, patient-centered and goal-oriented manner.
The Chronic Pain Toolkit is divided into five sections.
Pain Assessment gives an overview of appropriate strategies and diagnostic tools used to support chronic pain assessment in patients.
Functional and Other Assessments discusses supporting tools and methods for the diagnostic assessment of functional activity and other coexisting conditions, including the patient’s emotional and mental health, quality of life, and other psychosocial factors.
Pain Management provides details on strategies and considerations for effective management of acute and chronic pain.
Opioid Prescribing covers the prescribing of opioids as it relates to the treatment of chronic pain and includes information and resources on safe prescribing practices, risk mitigation and monitoring, opioid conversion and tapering tools, and specific resources for patients.
Opioid Use Disorders: Prevention, Detection and Recovery offers a brief overview along with resources in support of opioid use disorder prevention, recognition and assessment, and treatment and recovery.