People usually experience acute pain directly following injury or damage to the body or right after surgery. If the pain continues past the normal healing period (around 6 months), it may be labeled as chronic pain.
Chronic pain often has no known origin or behaves independently from the initial injury. It does not function like acute pain, which can protect the body or help prevent further injury. Instead, chronic pain often negatively interferes with meaningful rehabilitation, mood and quality of life. Chronic pain then becomes more like a disease instead of a symptom.
The difference between types of pain is not always clear. Chronic pain responds best when treated using a multidisciplinary approach. Depending on the condition, your physician may initiate multiple treatments including:
Patients travel from around the world to seek care at HSS. Our physicians specialize in the evaluation and management of numerous pain conditions whether neurologic, musculoskeletal, or orthopedic in nature. The Pain Management Service at Hospital for Special Surgery consists of highly skilled physicians with a variety of backgrounds including anesthesiology, neurology, and pain medicine.
Every pain management physician at HSS completes four years of medical school, four years of residency training in pain management, followed by one year of additional subspecialty training emphasizing pain medicine in addition to relevant fields including rehabilitation, psychiatry, and radiology. Pain management physicians treat the symptoms of the disease, which may include fatigue, loss of appetite and sleeping difficulties, to improve quality of life for each individual. Many of these symptoms are seen not only as a result of chronic pain, but may also secondarily result from some of the medications used to treat chronic pain.
While pain management physicians manage long-term, consistent pain, our operating room attending anesthesiologists treat acute pain caused by an immediate stressor – such as pain from orthopedic surgery. To treat acute pain specifically caused by an operation, anesthesiologists at HSS manage the hospital’s Acute Pain Service. This service provides individualized care to patients immediately following surgery through nurses who specialize in pain management and physician anesthesiologists.
Acute pain providers oversee a patient’s pain levels, review all of their pain medications after surgery, and apply multiple methods of pain relief – often called multimodal analgesia – to help patients stabilize from post-operative pain and start the rehabilitation process. The Acute Pain Service works with physical therapists, floor nurses, and surgeon’s to ensure pain is adequately managed.