Highlighting Pain Management

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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.

 

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