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VHA Pain Management

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Chronic pain is among the most common, disabling, and costly chronic illness in the US and Veterans are more likely to experience severe pain than the general US population.

Confusion by both patients and healthcare providers about the most appropriate way to understand and manage chronic pain can be a barrier to effective management. This confusion often stems from using a simplistic biomedical model (derived from conventional approaches to acute pain) to approach the multidimensional biopsychosocial condition of chronic pain and can lead to over-reliance on passive therapies such as opioids and procedures. 

Stepped Care Model for Pain Management (SCM-PM)

VHA is improving pain care through implementation of the Stepped Care Model for Pain Management (SCM-PM).

Abbreviations: CARF=Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, SUD=Substance Use Disorder, MH-PC=Mental Health-Primary Care, OEF/OIF=U.S.-led conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Specifically, OEF means "Operation Enduring Freedom" (the war in Afghanistan), while OIF stands for "Operation Iraqi Freedom," or the Iraq War, COT=chronic opioid therapy.

Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) Roadmap for Managing Pain

  The PACT Roadmap for Managing Pain (Pain Roadmap-PDF):
- Assists Facility and Primary Care Leaders more clearly define a pain care vision and establish the support structures needed to successfully implement the Pain Roadmap.
- Provides PACT Members with specific strategies and tactics they can use in interactions with other pain care team members and Veterans to promote good pain care.

The VA is Leading the Way in Promoting the Individualized Whole Person Treatment of Chronic Pain.

The solution requires the care team to adopt a whole person approach to pain care based on a modern understanding of chronic pain pathophysiology while emphasizing team-based care and the longitudinal relationship between the patient and the treatment team. 

Whole Person Pain Care - aims to support patient goals of improved health, well-being, and function by prioritizing safety and active self-management strategies. 

The treatment teams focus on non-pharmacologic therapies that involve active patient participation and careful use of non-opioid pharmacotherapy as the preferred approaches to support patients’ progress towards their individual life values.

Chronic Pain Primer

The Chronic Pain Primer provides more in-depth information about caring for Veterans with chronic pain.  A brief introductory text that provides basic information regarding chronic pain and multidisciplinary treatment. (coming soon.)

Understanding Pain

Understanding Pain Video   - Understanding Pain video was developed by VA/DOD to provide individuals, family members, and clinicians with general strategies for managing acute and chronic pain. 
 - Click on this link to  watch the video.* 

Providers Pain Management - Resource Topics

 Stay Current site  Whole Person Pain Care site Team-Based Pain Care Site  Specific Population site 

Literature Alerts for VA Staff

The VA Library Network will provide VA staff an index of recent articles related to opioids and many other areas of interest right to your work mailbox. If you are interested in subscribing to this alert click here.

Disclaimer: *Links will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs Website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites.