Physician assistants (PAs), nurse practitioners (NPs), and registered nurses (RNs) provide professional services on pain management teams. This review provides an overview of the practical management of chronic pain with intrathecal (IT) therapy using an interprofessional approach (eg, physicians and other health care professionals), with a focus on the contributions of PAs, NPs, and RNs.
Narrative review based on literature searches of the Medline database and treatment guidelines on the use of IT therapy in the management of patients with chronic pain.
The specific roles and responsibilities of PAs, NPs, and RNs in the management of patients receiving IT therapy vary by practice. In many pain treatment centers, PAs, NPs, and RNs are responsible for patient education, postimplant maintenance, and ongoing supportive care of patients receiving IT therapy. Topics that we address include patient selection, patient expectations and goal setting, medication selection, outcome assessment, and treatment adjustment. Currently, morphine and ziconotide (a nonopioid, selective N-type calcium channel blocker) are the only agents approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for IT analgesia. We provide relevant information on the dosing, titration, and adverse effect management of these medications for PAs, NPs, and RNs responsible for administering IT therapy.
PAs, NPs, and RNs are valuable members of IT pain management teams. Treatment success requires ongoing monitoring of efficacy and adverse effects, with corresponding adjustments to medication selection and dosing, in addition to good communication among the health care professionals involved in patient care.