Pain: A Textbook for Health Professionals (2nd Ed.)

This new edition of Pain is packed full of useful information and resources, proving to be very worthy of a home on your bookshelf (or mantelpiece).

From Elsevier comes the second edition (2014) of Pain: A Textbook for Health Professionals by Hubert van Griensven, Jenny Strong, and Anita M. Unruh, with a foreword by none other than “Dr. Gate Control Theory” himself, Ronald Melzack.  The textbook is written from a biopsychosocial perspective, with the focus of providing readers with a solid theoretical basis to improve assessment and management of persistent pain through various specific approaches. This book appears primarily geared towards physical and occupational therapists, but would also benefit physicians and nurses.  Pain is divided into three main sections spanning 27 chapters: an overview of pain, pain assessment and management, and special issues. For the manual therapists in the audience, there is a chapter specifically dedicated to manual therapy and its influence on pain perception, as well as other chapters focusing on exercise therapy, TENS/acupuncture, and various other complementary therapies.

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This book has many superb features, most notably:

  • The use of clear and concise language
  • Clean and simple figures in the neuroanatomy of the nociceptive system and explanation of TENS sections (always nice for the more complicated topics)
  • Extensive listing of amazing resources, e.g. pain education programs, outcome measures, and information on other forms of pain therapy
  • Various management strategies for the most common MSK problems (stating background, prevalence, practice guideline recommendations, evidence for exercise, etc) as well as more complex conditions such as CRPS and cancer pain
  • Helpful case examples, concept questions, and reflective exercises

There were few, if any, weaknesses inherent in this book. As such, the following points may seem overly critical in light of the daunting task of trying to cover every concept, theory, and topic in pain science:

  • With regards to the cognitive constructs of pain, the Fear-Avoidance Model illustrated (as per Vlaeyan & Linton, 2000) is slightly outdated – a more recent model has been illustrated by Leeuw et al (2007) based on information from Asmundson et al (2000). These authors “added an anxiety pathway in the anticipation of pain to the fear pathway in the presence of pain” since there is “no longer a direct link between fear and avoidance behavior, because by definition one cannot avoid a threat that is already present” (Leeuw et al 2007).
  • There is a great section on Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), but it would be helpful to have followed this with a section describing Cognitive-Functional Therapy (CFT), another widely accepted approach developed by Dr. Peter O’Sullivan at Curtin University in Australia (see here).

Overall, Pain is a tremendously useful resource. More and more emphasis is being placed on the biopsychosocial aspects of pain, which should make this textbook a mandatory reading in all health education programs as well as for healthcare providers in current practice.


  1. Leeuw M, Goossens ME, Linton SJ, Crombez G, Boersma K, Vlaeyen JWS. The Fear-Avoidance Model of Musculoskeletal Pain: Current State of Scientific Evidence. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 2007; 30(1): 77-94.
  2. Asmundson GJG, Wright KD, Hadjistavropoulos HD. Anxiety Sensitivity and Disabling Chronic Health Conditions: State of the Art and Future Directions. Scandinavian Journal of Behaviour Therapy, 2000; 29(3-4): 100-117.

Pain: a guide for healthcare professionals 20% discountThe highly anticipated new edition of Pain: a textbook for health professionals (previous subtitle a textbook for therapists) has undergone a major rewrite in order to reflect the rapid developments in the field of pain management. It highlights an effective and evidence-based method, providing the theoretical basis to help with the assessment and management of persistent pain, while also discussing in depth a range of specific approaches.

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