Pain Medicine and Management: Just the Facts. By Mark S. Wallace, M.D., and Peter S. Staats, M.D., M.B.A. New York, McGraw-Hill, 2005. Pages: 379. Price: $54.95.

It is estimated that more than 75 million people in the United States have persistent or recurrent pain. Despite the omnipresence of pain, it is largely inadequately managed, probably because it is difficult to diagnose and treat. In recent years, the pain literature has expanded rapidly, with a majority of the surge being in basic pain research. This has advanced our understanding of the pathophysiology of pain and has allowed us to develop more effective analgesic regimens. Concurrently, there are growing numbers of textbooks on pain medicine, which provide extremely useful and comprehensive information. Although these textbooks are excellent references, they may not be ideal for preparation for board certification.

Pain Medicine and Management: Just the Facts  is specifically intended “… to be a study guide for the pain physician who is studying for the board certification or recertification examination.” This book is organized into 9 sections and 70 chapters that generally cover the core curriculum for professional education in pain. The chapters are written by experienced practitioners and provide practical information in a clear and succinct format with numerous tables and figures. In addition, the book provides unique discussions on the therapeutic implications of acute and chronic pain states in a wide range of patient populations, including pediatric, pregnant, and elderly patients. The chapter on preparation for the board examination is extremely helpful. Therefore, the book is well suited as a review in preparation for the pain board examination and makes it worthwhile reading from front to back.

However, the most recent references in this book are at least 2 yr old. Because the examination tends to keep information current, particularly for topics that are changing rapidly, it will be necessary to supplement this work with more current information, such as recent review articles. In addition, some of the chapters are too brief to be helpful and should be supplemented with more comprehensive textbooks on pain medicine. Furthermore, although much sound advice is given, it must be emphasized that there is a lack of evidence base in much of current chronic pain medicine, and treatments are often based on experience. The other limitations are that the chapters are not well structured and there is some overlap of information. Some of the chapters are out of place (i.e. , belong to another section). For example, the chapter “Intrathecal Therapy for Cancer Pain” may belong in a section other than acute pain management. Hopefully, these limitations will be addressed in future editions.

In summary, the authors should be congratulated for their extensive work. They have succeeded in their aim of providing a concise as well as easy-reading book for seekers of pain board certification. This book is not only ideal for students of pain medicine, but it would also help those preparing to take the anesthesiology board examination. In addition, the practical format aids in the quick access of information and makes it an everyday companion for the busy occasional pain practitioner. It represents an essential text among other pain reference books and definitively belongs on the bookshelf.

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas.