Merck Manual

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Professional Version

Overview of Pain Assessment and Management

By

Sandra Allweiler

, DVM, DACVAA, Department of Clinical Sciences, Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University

Last full review/revision Aug 2013 | Content last modified Jun 2016

Pain delays recovery, impacts negatively on patient well-being, and can affect the client-veterinarian relationship. Behaviors suggestive of pain are routinely used to diagnose injuries and diseases, guide therapy, and provide prognostic information. Obvious signs of pain alert owners and veterinarians of a problem with the animal. Certainly, there is nothing novel about considering pain clinically relevant in the overall evaluation of an animal. What is relatively new is our understanding of the complexity of pain and the emphasis on ethical and medical obligations to treat pain in animals. Although limited survey data and anecdotal evidence suggest that the management of pain is receiving more attention in veterinary medicine than before, the assessment, prevention, and treatment of pain has yet to become an integral part of every physical examination and treatment plan.

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