top of page


PBPM Examination Matrix (in the format of ABPM) 2022

SUBJECT/TOPIC                           PERCENTAGE         NO. OF QUESTIONS (200 QUESTIONS)

Anatomy and Physiology

Diagnostic Testing

Types of Pain

Pain Assessment


Pain Medicine Therapies (Non- Pharmacolgic)

Psychological/Behavioral Aspects of Pain

Palliative and Hospice Care

















Breakdown of Subjects/Topics

I. Anatomy and Physiology (15%)

A. Head and face (including eyes, ears, nose, and throat)

B. Gastrointestinal and urogenital

C. Metabolic/endocrine

D. Respiratory/cardiovascular

E. Spine (facets, discs, bony anatomy)

F. Joints (nonspinal)

G. Muscles, connective tissue, integument

H. Central nervous system (includes brain, cranial nerves, spinal cord, meninges)

I.  Peripheral nervous system (includes spinal roots, plexi)

J. Autonomic nervous system

K. Pain neurophysiology (including neurotransmitters)


II. Diagnostic Testing (11%)

Proper usage and limitations of:

A. Laboratory studies

B. Imaging studies

C. Electrodiagnostic studies 

D. Autonomic function studies

E. Vascular studies

F. Diagnostic nerve blocks

G. Functional capacity evaluation

H. Physical examination

I.  Polysomnography, EEG, SSEP, etc.

J. Psychometric testing (pain-related, BPI, MPI, NRS, VAS, etc.; excludes VII E


III. Types of Pain (12%)

A. Headaches

B. Orofacial (temporomandibular disorder, dental, ENT, atypical facial pain)

C. Chest

D. Abdominal

E. Pelvic/genital

F. Spinal disorders 

G. Trigeminal neuralgia

H. Trauma and musculoskeletal pain, NEC

I. Postamputation

J. Spinal cord injury

K. Burn

L. Postoperative

M. Cancer

N. Sickle-cell disease


P. Rheumatologic disorders (articular, non-articular, includes connective tissue disorders, tendonitis)

Q. Myofascial pain syndrome/fibromyalgia syndrome

R. Central nervous system lesions (CVA, MS)

S. Diabetic neuropathies

T. Herpes zoster/postherpetic neuralgia

U. Complex Regional Pain Syndromes, sympathetic dystrophy/causalgia), sympathetically maintained and  independent pain

V. Peripheral nerve entrapment and other peripheral neuropaths, NEC

W. Radiculopathy (cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral)

X. Pain in children

Y. Pain in elderly

Z. Extremity (including shoulder and hip)

AA. Genetic/metabolic disorders, NEX (includes osteoporosis) 


IV. Pain Assessment (14%)

Impact of the following on patient report of pain:

A. Cultural background

B. Age

C. Psychological factors

Proper usage and limitations of:

D. Subjective report methods (e.g., visual analogue scale, verbal descriptors, McGill Pain Questionnaire)

E. Pain behavior ratings/activity reports

F. Pain treatment outcomes assessment

G. Placebo trials

V. Pharmacology (16%)

A. Tolerance and physical dependence

B. Detoxification and withdrawal syndromes

C. General pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamic principles

D. Routes of administration (including intrathecal/epidural pumps/catheters)

E. Equianalegesic doses

F. Placebo response, Nocebo response

G. Addiction (diagnosis, treatment, and epidemiology)

Mechanisms of action, contraindications, side effects, and interaction of:

H. Acetaminophen

I. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents

J. Corticosteroids

K. Local anesthetics

L. Antiarrhythmics

M. Muscle relaxants

N. Stimulants

O. Opioids

P. Anticonvulsants

Q. Antidepressants

R. Antipsychotics

S. Lithium

T. 5HT drugs (serotonin agonists/antagonists)

U. Ergot derivatives

V. Beta blockers

W. Benzodiazepines

X. Nonbenzodiazepine anxiolytics/hypnotics

Y. Neurolytic agents

Z. NMDA antagonists

AA. Calcium channel blockers

BB. Alpha agonists/antagonists

CC. Baclofen

DD. Tramadol

EE. Capsaicin

FF. Calcitonin

GG. Strontium

HH.  Bultabital preparations *

 VI. Pain Medicine Therapies (Non-Pharmacology) (15%)

A. Therapeutic nerve blocks

B. Epidural/subarachnoid anesthetic blocks

C. Continuous infusion of neuroaxial agents (e.g. morphine, baclofen)

D. Soft tissue injection

E. Intra-articular injections

F. Neurolytic techniques (chemical, cryogenic, radiofrequency)

G. Stimulation procedures (peripheral nerve, spinal cord)

H. Central nervous system ablative surgical techniques

I. Decompressive surgical procedures (peripheral nerve, nerve root)

J. Therapeutic heat and cold

K. Manipulation and massage

L. Physical therapy


N. Casting/splinting/orthotics

O. Conditioning exercise

P. Radiation therapy

Q. Cognitive behavioral therapy

R. Psychotherapy

S. Hypnosis

T. Biofeedback

U. Relaxation training

V. Occupational therapy

W. Vocational assessment/rehabilitation

X. Functional restoration (e.g., ergonomics, energy conservation)

Y. Nutrition

Z. Acupuncture and other complementary therapies

AA. Hospice care

BB. Multidisciplinary pain treatment




VII. Psychological/Behavioral Aspects of Pain (10%)

A. Impact of psychological factors on patient report of pain

B. DSM diagnosis of Pain Disorder

C. Other psychiatric diagnoses (e.g., somatoform, factitious, depressive, panic, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorders)

D. Interaction of pain problem/disorder with personality traits/disorders

E. Psychometric assessment (non-pain, e.g., MMPI, BDI, HAM-D, STAI; excludes II J): principles and tools

F. Impact of pain on work and family and influence of familial and occupational factors on pain

G. Secondary gain

H. Sexual dysfunction

I. Relationship between pain and sleep disorders


VIII. Palliative and Hospice Care (7%)

A. Concept of Palliative Care

B. Physical Care

C. Psychosocial care

D. Imminent Death and Loss

E. Palliative Care for Special Populations

F. Communication and Ethics

bottom of page