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Guest column series by Scott Fitzpatrick, Dipl.O.M., RES

The treatment of pain is one of the most challenging specialties in medicine; one that includes many difficult choices.  Over 50 million cases of pain-related visits to health care professionals are reported annually.  For this initial exploration, the complexities are too numerous to list, but can be introduced and loosely grouped into broad categories, including: types of pain, chronic vs. acute pain, reputable pain therapies vs. unproven pain therapies, pain medicine clinics vs. pain therapy clinics, effective vs. ineffective pain management.  This list is not all-inclusive but can open a constructive dialog that will help educate the consumer.

In the coming months, we will explore each topic with research based honesty and flexibility.  There is no perfect treatment for pain, and every case is different and must be evaluated on its own merit.  That being said, we do know a few things for sure:

  1. Pain syndromes are like snowflakes, they look similar and have similar structure, but no two are the same;
  2. Each person’s perception of pain is different;
  3. Pain medications DO NOT fix pain syndromes, they mask a portion of the pain;
  4. There is an appropriate time and place for all medications and therapies;
  5. Finding a fix to the pain medication problem is complex and will require a multi-pronged approach;
  6. Suggesting a “cure-all” pill for pain is a dangerous approach;
  7. Some people need pain medications, but most need pain therapy.

This dialog is intended to create interest in helping educate the consumers about the difficulties faced by patients, providers, government officials and insurance companies, working with pain syndromes.  The U.S. government has declared the next 10 years a time of research and pain control, something we in the business of pain medicine feel is long overdue.  We must all work together to provide appropriate care, because at some point in time, we will all need help with pain.

For more information about the author or alternative pain therapies, please visit www.ASAPofAnderson.org.  Coming up in the next newsletter: Types of Pain—Chronic versus Acute.

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