Chronic pain is a serious and debilitating fact of life for far too many people. It has been estimated that as much as 30% of the population suffers from some form of chronic pain such as low back pain. The cost of chronic pain to our healthcare system is measured in billions of dollars. Chronic pain can easily bring a strong willed person to their knees despite their very best efforts. However, many people often have trouble understanding why pain could ever be such a problem for people with pain. They think “Isn’t there a pill for that?” The best way to understand why chronic pain is such a problem for people is to walk a mile in their shoes.
Many people with chronic pain begin to fall into a downward spiral once the pain begins. People often find that taking medications is helpful but that it is not sufficient to get them back to work and enjoying life. Many people also find that pain medications can become less effective for them over time and that they need to take more and more pills just to function. Unfortunately, some patients do not receive much else other than medication to treat their pain. These people linger on in life while suffering from pain that they cannot manage very well.
Pain also has a way of shutting people out from enjoying life and doing things with their friends and loved ones. People give up their favorite hobbies and become locked into a very limited lifestyle where they just try to avoid doing anything that might cause them any further pain. Now their physical conditioning can really deteriorate and they may lose or gain a tremendous amount of weight. Many people then find themselves tired, depressed, and anxious. They didn’t choose this pain to happen to them and now they feel helpless to limit its power over them. All that they want is to be rid of this pain that has ruined their lives. However, many people with chronic pain simply do not know there is a better way to get treatment for chronic pain other than just using medications.
Numerous studies have found that the best solution to many peoples pain problems can be found at a multidisciplinary pain center (MCP). Patients at a MCP received care from a team of medical professionals that can aggressively target each part of their pain problem to help reverse their downward spiral into an ascent into wellness. A physician with a chronic pain speciality will work with the patient to review all the possible treatment methods that can be used to help them in addition to the medications that they are already receiving. Now these patients may have access to a whole new class of interventions including nerve blocks, acupuncture, and other minimally invasive procedures. Physical therapists will work with the patients to help them return to their current level of maximum functioning. Psychologists address all of the suffering that these patients experience using evidence-based techniques of psychotherapy such as biofeedback, cognitive behavior therapy, hypnosis, and meditation. Patients at an MCP have access to a variety of healthcare treatment professionals that work very closely together to help their patients. Numerous studies have found that multidisciplinary treatment is the best approach for many patients. Patients who receive treatment at an MCP are far more likely to return to a higher level of functioning and to break their downward spiral into chronic pain. Some patients even find later on that their struggle with chronic pain has brought them to a deeper understanding of the meaning and value of life.