Highlighting Pain Management
Recognition and treatment of chronic pain is fast becoming another cornerstone in compassionate veterinary care. As with acute pain, pets experience chronic pain and hide their pain response by a variety of behaviors. Chronic pain can have multiple sources including osteoarthritis pain, dental disease, back pain, myofascial pain, and cancer pain. Chronic pain differs from acute pain in that over-stimulated receptors in the spinal cord actually become a source of the pain, making chronic pain more difficult to treat. As such, a multi-modal approach to chronic pain management is essential.
Recognizing chronic pain depends on taking a thorough history, noting sometimes subtle behavior changes, performing a complete physical exam including an orthopedic and neurologic exam and observing the pets posture and ability to ambulate on flat surfaces and stairs. Radiographs of affected joints and dental x-rays will help identify potential sources of pain. Screening blood tests help identify underlying disease states and serve as a baseline to monitor possible changes in function associated with therapeutic drugs.