Perhaps more than any other condition, pain reveals the complex and potent link between mind and body. The tension, fear, and frustration that pain incites can make it hurt all the more. Past trauma can set the stage for chronic suffering by sensitizing the nervous system. One pain condition often leads to another.
So chronic pain is rarely an isolated problem that will yield to a single remedy.
“We need to come together and see chronic pain in its entirety as something that affects the whole person,” said Dr. Sean Mackey, chief of the Division of Pain Medicine at Stanford University.
Mackey was cochairman of the committee that developed the National Pain Strategy , a federal plan for addressing chronic pain. The report calls for greater access to multiple treatment options so patients can learn to manage their pain.
In pain management programs, psychologists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists collaborate in coaching patients to manage their pain.
Each patient needs to tailor a combination of solutions for living with pain, said Michael Von Korff of the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, a leading researcher in chronic pain management.
Psychologists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists can all help. We need to be smart about finding new ways of integrating them, making people with those kinds of skills more readily available where patients can get care. Where patients are getting care is at their primary care doctor’s office — a place already overburdened and ill-equipped to deal with the complexities of chronic pain.
“I see somebody with pain every day,” said Dr. Thad Schilling, chief of primary care at Reliant Medical Group, a Central Massachusetts practice. And yet, doctors get little training in how to understand and treat pain. Multidisciplinary programs are rare.
For information on pain treatment, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Franklin, MA.