A Pain in the neck or a pain in the a …, a few reminders about pain.

Written on May 4, 2012 – 7:08 am | allaboutestates.ca by Audrey Miller

I had the pleasure of attending a conference on “Conquering Pain” presented by Dr. Mary O’Brien and I thought I would share a few things. However, I would like to preface my comments with the following: I am a patient -not a doctor; I work with seniors everyday and while some are over medicated, most are dealing with pain symptomatology on a daily basis. Speak with your own doctor and help them to obtain a good history. Keep a record of your symptoms as you know your own body best of all. Speak up- if new symptoms or different symptoms/side effects begin, get medical attention.

We have all experienced pain in some degree yet we all have difficulty imagining or feeling someone else’s pain. It remains a subjective experience and one that is difficult to share. There are many different types of pain including nociceptive (somatic and visceral) and neuropathic pain and many different causes. Regardless, it seems to me that the experience of having pain is universal yet being properly treated for pain so that symptoms can be controlled- continues to be an elusive hunt.

The Canadian Pain Coalition reported that at least 1 in 5 adults lives with chronic pain. (Canadian Pain Coalition, Report on pain. Oshawa, ON: Canadian Pain Coalition; 2011). In their January 10, 2011 Report on Pain it was documented that “Twenty-one per cent of Canadians who experience chronic pain stated they had to wait more than two years for a diagnosis for their condition, while only 54 per cent of those who have a diagnosis have a treatment plan. Not surprisingly therefore almost half (45 per cent) believe there are no treatment options that can help them with their condition.”
I was reminded that medically, we are a society that tends to under treat pain. I know that even in the last days of life, we were unable to get a palliative care consult and access to morphine without the pre-requisite diagnosis. See Old Age is Not a Diagnosis blog. It truly cannot be that the physicians were worried about addiction issues in my 96 year old mother in law- or could it be?

I was reminded that we should not chase pain but that we should anticipate it such as taking the acetaminophen before gardening, or the activity that you want to do but you know will hurt afterwards (such as helping your children move back home or leave home for that matter). Understanding the difference between hurt and harm is part of it. Have your physician address and treat the other factors that can aggravate or increase the perception of pain, such as insomnia, anxiety, depression or a co-morbid illnesses. This can be a challenge when doctors don’t have enough time with each patient (reported at 7 minutes per patient- although I cannot confirm this data). I was reminded that pain can be in your head and a positive attitude can lead to a faster recovery and that negative expectations can even limit the effectiveness of pain medications. Reminder of the day: ‘the less you do, the less you will be able to do’

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