An update of comprehensive evidence-based guidelines for interventional techniques in chronic spinal pain. Part I: introduction and general considerations

Pain Physician. 2013 Apr;16(2 Suppl):S1-48.


In 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) re-engineered its definition of clinical guidelines as follows: "clinical practice guidelines are statements that include recommendations intended to optimize patient care that are informed by a systematic review of evidence and an assessment of the benefit and harms of alternative care options." This new definition departs from a 2-decade old definition from a 1990 IOM report that defined guidelines as "systematically developed statements to assist practitioner and patient decisions about appropriate health care for specific clinical circumstances." The revised definition clearly distinguishes between the term "clinical practice guideline" and other forms of clinical guidance derived from widely disparate development processes, such as consensus statements, expert advice, and appropriate use criteria. The IOM committee acknowledged that for many clinical domains, high quality evidence was lacking or even nonexistent. Even though the guidelines are important decision-making tools, along with expert clinical judgment and patient preference, their value and impact remains variable due to numerous factors. Some of the many factors that impede the development of clinical practice guidelines include bias due to a variety of conflicts of interest, inappropriate and poor methodological quality, poor writing and ambiguous presentation, projecting a view that these are not applicable to individual patients or too restrictive with elimination of clinician autonomy, and overzealous and inappropriate recommendations, either positive, negative, or non-committal. Consequently, a knowledgeable, multidisciplinary panel of experts must develop guidelines based on a systematic review of the existing evidence, as recently recommended by the IOM. Chronic pain is a complex and multifactorial phenomenon associated with significant economic, social, and health outcomes. Interventional pain management is an emerging specialty facing a disproportionate number of challenges compared to established medical specialties, including the inappropriate utilization of ineffective and unsafe techniques. In 2000, the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP) created treatment guidelines to help practitioners. There have been 5 subsequent updates. These guidelines address the issues of systematic evaluation and ongoing care of chronic or persistent pain, and provide information about the scientific basis of recommended procedures. These guidelines are expected to increase patient compliance; dispel misconceptions among providers and patients, manage patient expectations reasonably; and form the basis of a therapeutic partnership between the patient, the provider, and payers.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain* / diagnosis
  • Chronic Pain* / therapy
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / standards*
  • Guidelines as Topic / standards*
  • Humans
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Pain Management / standards*
  • Societies, Medical / standards
  • Spinal Cord / pathology*
  • United States