Pain Basics and the Assessment of Pain

This program will consist of four sections including pain basics, the pain interview, the key elements of the physical exam of a patient with chronic pain as well as imaging, electrodiagnosis and urine drug testing.

Pain Basics

This overview of pain basics will include a discussion of basic anatomy and the function of the peripheral nervous system,  the central nervous system, and the autonomic nervous system. It will also review nociceptive pain.

Assessment of Pain: The Pain Interview

This section will cover basic communication skills and will illustrate how to conduct a thorough interview.

Pain Assessment: Key Elements of the Physical Exam of a Patient with Chronic Pain

This section will demonstrate the key elements of the physical examination, including important features of the musculoskeletal and neurologic exams.

Faculty: George D. Comerci, Jr., MD, FACP, ADAAPM

Pain Assessment: Imaging, Electrodiagnosis, Urine Drug Testing

This section will include assessment using imaging modalities, such as plain radiography, CT imaging, MRI and key radiographic findings. In addition, electrodiagnosis and urine drug testing will be covered

Faculty: Brian M. Shelley, MD, ADAAPM, CIME

Target Audience

This 3.25 hour CME activity is designed for physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants as well as clinicians who treat chronic pain. 

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this activity, participants should be better able to:

  1. Discuss the epidemiology of chronic pain in the United States.
  2. Describe the principal anatomic divisions of the nervous system involved in nociception.
  3. Describe the physiologic mechanisms involved with nociception from receptor to cerebral cortex.
  4. Describe the difference between a patient-centered interview and a clinician-centered interview.
  5. Demonstrate interview habits that facilitate the patient-centered interview.
  6. Describe key features of the “Pain Story.” 
  7. Discuss salient features of the musculoskeletal exam.
  8. Discuss Salient features of the neurologic exam.
  9. Determine a diagnosis.
  10. Describe the American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria.
  11. Describe common MRI findings in the lumbar spine.                               
Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 3.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™
  • 3.25 Document of Attendance
Course opens: 
Course expires: 

George D. Comerci, Jr, MD, FACP, is a Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of New Mexico where he is actively involved in clinical care and teaching.  He is also a consultant at the UNM Pain Consultation and Treatment Center and  a facilitator of the ECHO Pain and Headache Clinic.   He is an Advanced Diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management and, with the help of several colleagues, has developed a curriculum and credentialing examination for pain management intended for use by non-interventional physicians.  Dr. Comerci is a member of the American Academy of Pain Management, the International Association for the Study of Pain, the American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians.

Brian M. Shelley, MD, is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.  Dr. Shelley was assistant professor in the University of New Mexico (UNM) Section of Integrative Medicine from 2001 to 2008, and was the director of the Chronic Pain Clinic at First Choice Community Healthcare from 2008 to 2015. At UNM, he is currently clinical associate professor of Family and Community Medicine, research assistant professor in Psychology, and affiliated faculty at the Chronic Pain and Headache Management TeleECHO Clinic. He is an Advanced Diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management (AAPM), and also serves on the AAPM Credentialing and Curriculum Committee. Dr. Shelley has performed independent medical examinations since 2008, is the founder of Albuquerque Independent Medical Services LLC (AIMS), and is certified by the American Board of Independent Medical Examiners through 2018.

Staff and Content Validation Reviewer Disclosures
The staff involved with this activity and any content validation reviewers of this activity have reported no relevant financial relationships with commercial interests.

Planning Committee/Faculty Disclosure

Dr. Comerci and Dr. Shelley report they have nothing to disclose.

Debra Nelson-Hogan, Director of Education for the Academy of Integrative Pain Management, reports that she has nothing to disclose.

Cathleen Coneghen, Assistant Director of Education for the Academy of Integrative Pain Management, reports that she has nothing to disclose.

The information provided at this activity is for continuing education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a health care provider relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient’s medical condition.

For questions regarding CME for this activity, you may reach the department of education at the Academy of Integrative Pain Management at

For successful completion of this activity, please complete a pre-test; utilize the audio recordings synched with the presentation slides and videos to review the content, providing answers to your questions as necessary; and complete a post-test and evaluation following the activity. You will then be prompted to print your certificate. This activity should take approximately 3.25 hours to complete.

This program is accredited for physicians, nurses, and psychologists. All other clinicians can submit the certificate of attendance upon completion of the program to their licensing boards for consideration of credit.


The American Academy of Pain Management is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The American Academy of Pain Management designates this educational activity for a maximum of 3.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Available Credit

  • 3.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™
  • 3.25 Document of Attendance

Accreditation Period

Course opens: 
Course expires: 


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