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    An overview of the current understanding of pain as a multi-dimensional phenomenon, including: pain concepts and history; the neuropathophysiology of peripheral and central pain mechanisms; pain measurement; and the psychological, social and economic aspects of both acute and chronic pain.

    This paper will help clinicians to understand the multifactorial nature of pain so that they can provide patient-centred care.

    About this paper

    Paper title Introduction to Pain
    Subject Musculoskeletal Medicine
    EFTS 0.125
    Points 15 points
    Teaching period Semester 1 (Distance learning)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,494.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    MSMX 704
    Limited to
    MHealSc, PGCertHealSc, PGCertMSM, PGCertPHC, PGDipHealSc, PGDipMSM, PGDipPHC, PGDipPhty, MPhty
    Appropriately qualified health professionals such as medical practitioners, nurses, occupational therapists, osteopaths, physiotherapists - those with prior experience in a related health area may apply, subject to the approval of the MSM and Pain Executive Committee.

    Teaching staff

    Paper Coordinator: Dr Bronwyn Lennox Thompson

    Paper Structure

    The paper consists of eight modules covering historic and conceptual models, an introduction to neurobiology, pain behaviour and disability, thoughts and emotions, and specific pain mechanisms in acute and chronic pain.

    The broad topics include:

    • Introduction, historic and conceptual models of pain
    • An introduction to neurobiology of pain
    • Pain and disability
    • Pain and cognitions
    • Transition from acute pain to chronic disability
    • Neuropathic pain
    • Nociceptive pain
    • Nociplastic pain
    Teaching Arrangements

    Material is provided electronically via the Blackboard Learning Management System and is taught in eight fortnightly sessions using Zoom video-conferencing.

    Pain - A textbook for health professionals, 2nd Edition (2014) by Hubert van Griensven, Jenny Strong, and Anita M. Unruh. Published by Churchill Livingstone. Available from Amazon, The Book Depository or the publishers directly
    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Scholarship, Critical thinking, Information literacy, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete the paper will understand and apply a multidimensional approach to pain. They will finish the paper having a good grasp of the fundamentals of pain and be able to consider the aspects that are important when a person with pain comes looking for help. Interprofessional team knowledge is encouraged. The two key questions clinicians should ask are emphasised:

    1. Why is this person presenting in this way at this time?
    2. What can be done to reduce this person's distress and disability?


    Semester 1

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught through Distance Learning
    Learning management system
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