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Starts at $9.98 per contact hour
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8 hours $7.98
12 hours $6.98
20 hours $5.98
30 hours $4.98

Pain Theory and Assessment Principles

2.0 Contact Hours
Target Audience: Nurses, healthcare professionals, and interested individuals
Purpose/Goal: The outcome of this course is for the learner to describe the types and physiology of pain, variables that affect it, strategies for conducting a complete pain assessment, barriers to assessment, the role of culture, and appropriate pain documentation.
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Pain is a universal phenomenon. Pain is the fifth vital sign and its assessment is crucial in the comprehensive care of every patient. Pain is a subjective concept and is whatever the client says it is. Pain is experienced across all age groups, across all socioeconomic levels, and in all settings and exists within the context of a culture, as well as within personal, physical, and psychological history. Pain and the search for relief is one of the primary reasons a client accesses the healthcare system. It is also one of the most complex and challenging problems in health care and biology.

Upon completion of the course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Define pain.
  • Compare and contrast acute and chronic pain.
  • Explain the pathophysiology of pain.
  • Describe the types of pain.
  • Identify variables that affect pain.
  • Describe various pain assessment strategies.
  • Describe barriers to an adequate pain assessment.
  • Explain the role of documentation in the assessment of pain.

Pain is a universal phenomenon. It is experienced across all age groups, across all socioeconomic levels, and in all settings. Pain exists within the context of a culture, as well as within personal, physical, and psychological history. Its treatment, therefore, should be multidisciplinary. Pain and the search for relief is one of the primary reasons a client accesses the healthcare system.

Pain is also one of the most complex and challenging problems in health care and biology. The sufferer must learn to live with the pain, the healthcare provider must seek every possible means to help the sufferer, the scientist must try to understand the mechanisms of pain, and society must find medical, scientific, and financial resources to relieve or treat pain and suffering as much as possible (Lynch, Craig, and Peng, 2011).

Pain interferes with virtually every aspect of life—sleep, work, socializing with family and friends, hobbies, and activities of daily living. The French physician, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, stated in 1931 “Pain is a more terrible lord of mankind than even death itself.” (U. S. Department of Health and Human Services [USDHHS], 2013). Pain is associated with injuries and disease. Sometimes pain is the cause of disease (such as in headaches or neuropathic pain), and sometimes it occurs as a result of a specific condition (such as postoperative pain). Tens of millions of people suffer from pain in the United States and this number is increasing due to an aging population. It exacts a tremendous cost in the United States, including healthcare costs, rehabilitation and lost worker productivity, as well as emotional and financial burdens for patients, families, and society. Globally, an estimated 20% of adults suffer from pain and 10% of the global population is diagnosed with chronic pain every year (Goldberg & McGee, 2011).

More Americans are affected by pain than by diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined (American Academy of Pain Medicine [AAPM], 2017). Often, the health care provider is called on to intervene when the client’s perceived cause of pain requires intervention or when the pain interferes with activities of everyday living.

The pain management process is often complicated. It requires an accurate assessment for the presence, type, severity, location, and possible causes of pain. Adequate and useful assessment parameters can vary widely with many types of clients. There is no one “magic formula” that is useful in assessing the pain of all clients. Once assessments are completed, the identification and provision of various interventions to treat and prevent pain are an essential part of the treatment process. An ever-expanding arsenal for pain relief is at the fingertips of health care professionals, and interventions often change depending on client goals. Continued education and an open mind to traditional as well as nontraditional approaches to pain relief provide many alternatives to use when designing a plan for relieving pain (Pasero & McCaffery, 2011).

Finding ways to implement the pain relief plan depends on the client’s needs, beliefs, culture, and goals; the setting in which the client lives and works as well as the setting in which the pain relief will be delivered; whether or not the client has significant others to assist him or her; and available resources for receiving and paying for treatment. The health care provider must continuously evaluate the client’s outcomes and satisfaction with results of the pain relief plan to effectively and appropriately guide any revisions to the plan and to facilitate optimal pain relief. Ongoing communication between the client, family caregivers, and other health care providers is generally essential. Clear, concise documentation provides evidence of the plan, its effectiveness, and any necessary revisions, as well as being a powerful and necessary tool for communication (Pasero & McCaffery, 2011).

Complete the course post exam (CE Test) with a score of 80% or greater. Complete all fields of the course evaluation form. Certificate of Completion is provided once the course post exam is passed per criteria above.

  • American Board of Managed Care Nursing
  • ANCC - American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • AOTA - American Occupational Therapy Association
  • ASWB - Association of Social Work Boards
  • California Board of Registered Nursing
  • California Department of Health, Aid, and Technician Certification Section
  • District of Columbia Board of Nursing
  • Florida Board of Nursing
  • Florida Board of Nursing - Certified Nursing Assistants
  • Florida Board of Respiratory Care
  • Florida Council of Dietetics and Nutrition
  • Florida Council of Licensed Midwifery
  • NAADAC - The National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors
  • Florida Board of Massage Therapists
  • NCBTMB -National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork
  • California Board of Behavioral Sciences


Practice Level:


Content Focus:

Domain of OT

Course Expires:

June 01, 2020

  • Cyndie Koopsen, RN, BSN, MBA, HNB-BC, RN-BC, HWNC-BC
  • Caroline Young, MPH
Jurisdictional Requirements:

Continuing education (CE) licensing requirements vary by jurisdiction, are not well defined, and may change. These CE requirements may vary in terms of the number of hours required to the types of courses that must be taken. ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC recommends you contact your licensing board or accrediting organization for the latest continuing education requirements of your state or territory. Compliance with CE requirements is the responsibility of the individual health care provider. Health care providers must understand the CE requirements in their jurisdictions, and be sure they are up-to-date on any rule changes that affect their license. For further information, please see our Accreditation Information.

Accommodations for Disabilities:

Every effort will be made to accommodate your special needs. To request accommodations, please contact us.

Conflicts of Interest and Relevant Financial Relationships:

The authors/planning committee members have no conflicts of interests or relevant financial relationships to declare relevant to this activity.

Commercial Support:

No commercial support has been received for this activity.

Non-endorsement of products:

Accreditation refers to recognition of continuing nursing education only and does not imply ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC approval or endorsement of any commercial product.

Off-label Use of Products:

None of the authors intend to discuss off-label uses of drugs, mechanical devices, biologics, or diagnostics not approved by the FDA for use in the United States.