Diagnostic evaluation is often the focus of attention for the emergency clinician when presented with an injured patient. This is well intended, in order to identify and apply appropriate therapies. While many therapies are available for different types of traumatic injuries (splinting, surgical intervention, etc), it is important to remember (and is often the focus for the patient) that therapy should include symptomatic relief from pain as well. Often, it is possible to provide appropriate analgesia prior to extensive diagnostic testing.
The sensation of pain is a complicated process, and its experience varies between patients. Comorbidities, types of injuries, and resource availability are among the many factors that influence appropriate analgesia. A provider with an understanding of the pathophysiology of pain, methods for evaluating it, and a variety of treatment options is well-suited to handle a broad range of presentations. This should include nonpharmacologic means of pain relief as well (anxiolysis, immobilization, elevation, etc).
Many traumatic injuries are amenable to regional anesthetic techniques that act more directly toward the source of discomfort. Application of these techniques may improve analgesia and decrease the need for systemic analgesia, which often carry additional risks. As with any therapy, the benefit of the treatment should be considered against any potential harm.