Quick Facts :
Pain Management Nurse

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Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses, May 2017

info-icon ADN or BSN
info-icon $73,550 Annual Wage
info-icon 15% Job Growth

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What Is a Pain Management Nurse?

Imagine living with pain each and every day. Unfortunately, an estimated 50 million Americans don’t have to imagine this – they live with it every day. Their pain makes it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to lead productive personal and professional lives. Nurses that specialize in pain management help millions of patients live active and fulfilling lives.

Patients seeking pain management therapy suffer from varying degrees of pain. Some patients, for instance, experience mild to moderate pain constantly; others, however, may experience severe pain periodically. Headaches and back pain are the most common types of pain. Sports injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and fibromyalgia are some of the most common causes for different types of pain.

Pain management nurses also care for patients who are suffering from both acute and chronic pain. Acute pain is a type of pain that comes on suddenly and has a specific cause, usually an injury. The cause of chronic pain, on the other hand, may or may not be known, and it may linger long after an injury has healed. Acute pain is also somewhat sharp, whereas chronic pain may be more of an ache and be accompanied by other symptoms, such as muscle tension, lethargy, and depression.

What Do Pain Management Nurses Do?

Pain management nurses assess patients to determine the severity and causes of their pain. In order to do this, they will often physically examine patients and discuss their symptoms. Pain management nurses will also usually examine their patients’ medical histories and perform diagnostic tests, such as x-rays.

Helping patients ease and manage their pain, however, is a pain management nurse’s biggest task. Today, patients in severe pain have the luxury of taking strong and effective pain-relieving medications. Pain management nurses are typically responsible for administering these medications and teaching patients how to take these medications safely.

Because many narcotic pain medications are habit forming and can cause additional health problems, pain management nurses also try to help patients by introducing them to alternative pain management techniques. Some of these techniques may include biofeedback, acupuncture, massage, and therapeutic exercises.

Where Do Pain Management Nurses Work?

As a pain management nurse, you can often find employment in a few different healthcare facilities. Some of the most common employers include hospitals, clinics, and physician offices. However, you may also be able to find employment in rehabilitation centers and sometimes even fitness centers.

How Do I Become a Pain Management Nurse?

The majority of pain management nurses start their careers with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This degree not only teaches the fundamentals of nursing, but it also enables nursing students to concentrate their studies in specific areas, like pain management. Once you’ve earned your degree, you will then need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination to obtain your licensure as a registered nurse.

You can also obtain certification in pain management through the American Society for Pain Management Nursing. To be eligible to sit for the certification examination, you must have at least two years of experience as a registered nurse. You must also have 2,000 hours of experience in pain management and 30 hours of continuing nursing education, with half of those hours being related specifically to pain management.

Additional Resources for Pain Management Nurses