Pain Management Treatment is now an accepted alternative to drugs
Pain management, pain medicine, pain control or algiatry, is a branch of medicine employing an interdisciplinary approach for easing the suffering and improving the quality of life of those living with chronic pain. The typical pain management team includes medical practitioners, pharmacists, clinical psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists. The team may also include other mental health specialists and massage therapists. Pain sometimes resolves promptly once the underlying trauma or pathology has healed, and is treated by one practitioner, with drugs such as analgesics and (occasionally) anxiolytics. Effective management of chronic (long-term) pain, however, frequently requires the coordinated efforts of the management team.
Medicine treats injury and pathology to support and speed healing; and treats distressing symptoms such as pain to relieve suffering during treatment and healing. When a painful injury or pathology is resistant to treatment and persists, when pain persists after the injury or pathology has healed, and when medical science cannot identify the cause of pain, the task of medicine is to relieve suffering. Treatment approaches to chronic pain include pharmacological measures, such as analgesics, antidepressants and anticonvulsants, interventional procedures, physical therapy, physical exercise, application of ice and/or heat, and psychological measures, such as biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy.
What are psychological therapies?
If you lived with or are currently living with pain, you already know how it can take over and seep into every aspect of your life.
Having to deal with the pain on an everyday basis can be exhausting. Dealing with all of the results of having daily pain can create even more problems in your life. For example, if your pain affects your ability to work, you might have difficulty making a living. You might lose your social network of co-workers. You might feel like you are no longer making a difference to society or helping your family. All of this can lead to depression, anger, and anxiety. As shown in the figure below, these emotions and thoughts then feed back into your pain experience and can make the pain worse. This is called The Pain Cycle.
The Pain Cycle
Some people get caught in this negative downward spiral and find it difficult to see a way out. This is where a psychologist can help. A psychologist can help you break out of this cycle by teaching you new skills to better manage the pain itself and how to cope with the consequences of pain.
Chronic pain often requires both counselling and medical treatment, because it can have a wearing effect on both the body and the mind. At a pain management clinic, you can get multidisciplinary treatment from a team of specialists, including:
- Psychiatrists. These medical doctors specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation. They often coordinate a chronic pain treatment team.
- Psychologists or counselors. They teach cognitive-behavioral skills for managing pain, anxiety, and depression.
- Physiotherapists. They teach exercises for improving and maintaining strength, function, and mobility.
- Doctors who prescribe pain medicine and are skilled in pain management devices and procedures. These doctors include neurologists, anesthesiologists, psychiatrists or physical medicine specialists, internists, and family medicine doctors.
- Doctors who prescribe medicine for supporting mental health. These doctors include psychiatrists and family medicine doctors.
- A nurse or social worker to help coordinate care.
CBC Canada reported that one in five Canadians suffer from chronic pain, and if you’re one of the millions affected — and you’re lucky — you have a doctor who knows how to treat your symptoms.
But if you need to see a pain specialist, wait times are long. Very long — frequently more than a year. And many live far from the country’s publicly funded pain clinics, because large areas of Canada have little or no access to appropriate pain care.
Three quarters of the people waiting for care at Canadian pain clinics say it interferes with their normal work life. More than half suffer from severe levels of depression. And almost 35 per cent report that they’ve considered suicide.
According to the Canadian Pain Society, chronic pain is an expensive problem, not only to the patient but also to society as a whole. It costs billions of dollars a year in health costs, lost productivity, not to mention the social cost to lives that are derailed by addiction or depression.