Practical Pain Management: The Nation’s Premier Teaching Journal for Pain Practitioners
Over a dozen years ago, the United States Congress proclaimed the “Decade of Pain,” and the infamous 1 to 10 visual analog pain score became the 5th vital sign. At just about the same time, Marvin Rosenfeld—not a physician but a publisher—believed that practicing physicians who treated pain patients needed a tutorial magazine that contained practical tips on case management. He, therefore, founded Practical Pain Management (PPM) in 2000 with the motto “The Journal with the Practitioner in Mind.” I came on the Editorial Board about 18 months after PPM was launched because I shared the vision and beliefs of the founder.
In the early years, neither the publisher nor I believed that PPM would outlive the usual 2- to 3-year life span of what was commonly called a “throw-away journal.” Little did we know that PPM would, over a decade later, emerge as the nation’s premier teaching journal for front-line physicians who treat pain. In addition, non-physician medical practitioners have adopted PPM as one of their top teaching guides. PPM now welcomes all medical practitioners who treat pain patients, including nurse practitioners, physician assistants, podiatrists, pharmacologists, chiropractors, psychologists, etc. In fact, we have a number of allied medical practitioners on our Editorial Board. Since 2011, PPM has been published by Vertical Health, LLC, which has redesigned the journal and expanded our Web presence with both professional and consumer websites (PracticalPainManagement.com).
In retrospect, it is not surprising that a teaching journal for physicians in pain practice has had the longevity and popularity that PPM has achieved. The reasons are rather straightforward. First, the research, peer-review journals have achieved a very high level of expertise but suffer from a very long lag time to publish new information. Thanks to the Internet and mass media, today’s patients want to know about and demand the latest therapies. Second, there are now so many research journals that there is a crucial need to pull all the relevant scientific and clinical information together, interpret it, and synthesize it for practical, clinical use. For example, the most recent issue of The Journal of Pain, published by The American Pain Society, has 2 excellent articles that, on the surface, should be of interest to practicing physicians.1,2 One is entitled “The Association of Sleep and Pain: An Update and a Path Forward” and the other “Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Increases Prefrontal Cortex Gray Matter in Patients with Chronic Pain.” While both of these scholarly articles contain great, clinically relevant information, neither contains a single, practical tip for the practicing physician.
Postgraduate and continuing education for physicians has changed over the past decade. No longer do academic centers or community hospitals provide much, if any, continuing education for physicians. The majority of practicing physicians in some communities do not even belong on the staff of their local hospital. Conferences sponsored by professional membership organizations now may focus more on internal, economic, and political matters than they do on continuing education. What’s even more compelling is the enormous cost to leave one’s practice and attend a conference halfway across the country. Add up all the changes to postgraduate education, and it’s easy to see why a teaching journal solely dedicated to better pain treatment is critical.
A large part of PPM’s success has simply been that we are only in the business of teaching pain management. We have chosen to not “multi-task” by trying to be all things to all people. We don’t sponsor conferences, run a membership organization, apply for research grants, jockey for election to boards, or teach undergraduates. We don’t lobby or advocate for any particular treatment, and we don’t teach billing procedures or financial matters. We’re only interested in better pain care and less suffering of patients.
Several principles have and will continue to be a part of our endeavor. Every issue is intended to contain at least one practical article that every pain practitioner can use to enhance care of his or her patients. At no time will we say that this is a consensus or the “one way.” Two medical professors who give a lecture on the same subject might have significantly different perspectives, and this is especially true of pain topics. Consequently, no recommendation proffered in our journal is meant as an absolute. We have not and will not shy away from controversial issues. We simply will ask for opinions from our excellent Editorial Board and let the reader decide. After all, the vast majority of our readers are high-level physicians and other doctoral level professionals who cannot and should not be the target of dictatorial mandates that are all too common in today’s pain practice.
Our goal has been and will continue to be to teach the best in pain practice. We will do our best to work for you and earn our new slogan, “The Nation’s Premier Teaching Journal for Pain Practitioners.” Since our beginning we have and will continue to ask every pain practitioner, “If you have a method, procedure, or an idea that you believe will help other pain practitioners provide better pain care, write it up and send it to us.” We believe that the very best teaching comes when practitioners share their clinical, scientific, and caring experiences.
We look forward to hearing from you our readers—let’s keep the dialog going. Send your comments to email@example.com; or post a comment on our Facebook page.