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Pain Management Isn't Taught in Medical School

April 12, 1999

Your article "Many Specialists, but Little Relief for Most Sufferers" (March 22) discusses many important issues in the field of pain management. However, two need to be highlighted.

The reason pain is often poorly managed has nothing to do with concerns about prescribing narcotic medications. In fact, nerve pain that responds better to the antidepressant and anticonvulsant medications and bone pain that is better treated with the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are just as poorly managed as pain best treated with narcotics.

The real reason pain is under-treated is that most physicians receive little education on management during medical school and postgraduate training programs. Until this problem is addressed, many patients will continue to suffer needless pain.

Along the same lines, when patients seek a health care professional to manage their pain, they should look for practitioners who have had formal training in pain management. We should no more expect patients to go to untrained pain professionals than to go to an untrained surgeon or internist.



Division of Pain Medicine

Temple University

School of Medicine


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