This blog caught my eye and piqued my interest as an honest account from an MD about pain. I think that the same points ring true for many in healthcare where pain education is minimal. This is extraordinary bearing in mind that the vast number of consultations that involve pain descriptions.
Simply, we need pain education to form a much bigger part of training healthcare professionals and high quality courses, seminars and discussion forums to further understanding as the science base changes Fortunately the science base is changing rapidly, meaning that we can tackle pain in many different ways, beginning with reconceptualising pain for patients. Developing a pain sufferer’s understanding of their experience is fundamental to moving forward, creating the fertile ground from where they can flourish and evolve a better quality of life. We are designed to change, the nervous system and immune systems both consistently learning and adapting . It is our job to help facilitate this process in pain and empower patients.
Hard Cases: The Traps of Treating Pain
I hadn’t seen Larry in a dozen years when he reappeared in my office a few months ago, grinning. We were both grinning. I always liked Larry, even though he was a bit of a hustler, a little erratic in his appointments, a persistent dabbler in a variety of illegal substances. But he was always careful to avoid the hard stuff; he said he had a bad problem as a teenager and was going to stay out of trouble.
It was to stay out of trouble that he left town all those years ago, and now he was back, grayer and thinner but still smiling. Then he pulled out a list of the medications he needed, and we both stopped smiling.
According to Larry’s list, he was now taking giant quantities of one of the most addictive painkillers around, an immensely popular black-market drug most doctors automatically avoid prescribing except under the most exceptional circumstances.
“I got a bad back now, Doc,” Larry said.
Doctors hate pain. Let me count the ways. We hate it because we are (mostly) kindhearted and hate to see people suffer. We hate it because it is invisible, cannot be measured or monitored, and varies wildly and unpredictably from person to person. We hate it because it can drag us closer to the perilous zones of illegal practice than any other complaint.
And we hate it most of all because unless we specifically seek out training in how to manage pain, we get virtually none at all, and wind up flying over all kinds of scary territory absolutely solo, without a map or a net.
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