Assessment of Pain: Tools, Challenges, and Special Populations

  • Muhammad Khan
  • Laila Mahmood
  • Deborah Fisher
  • Stacey Thompson
  • Diana Stewart
  • Hunter GroningerEmail author


At its core, an individual’s pain experience is ultimately unknowable to the outside world. Nevertheless, we must persist to excavate and understand one’s pain, to address it, and hopefully to alleviate it. Even today, our best tools for pain assessment remain language and the physical exam; this is how we listen to the patient’s story and help to clarify the pain narrative. Through a focus on cancer pain, this chapter provides an overview of pain assessment, including generally accepted definitions and classifications. We consider approaches to individualized patient assessment including psychosocial-spiritual considerations. We include special populations, including pediatrics, noncommunicative patients, and patients with substance use disorder. We also introduce key concepts of opioid risk assessment.


Pain Cancer Pain assessment Total pain Opioid risk Chronic pain Breakthrough pain 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Muhammad Khan
    • 1
  • Laila Mahmood
    • 2
  • Deborah Fisher
    • 2
  • Stacey Thompson
    • 3
  • Diana Stewart
    • 3
  • Hunter Groninger
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of MedicineMedStar Washington Hospital CenterWashington, DCUSA
  2. 2.PANDA Pediatric Palliative CareChildren’s National Medical CenterWashington, DCUSA
  3. 3.Section of Palliative CareMedStar Washington Hospital CenterWashington, DCUSA
  4. 4.Department of MedicineGeorgetown University Medical CenterWashington, DCUSA

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