100 million American suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts longer than six months, and of course, in many cases people suffer from it for years.
It can be mild or excruciating, episodic or continuous and can, at times, be incapacitating.
Because of the randomness of the chronic pain, often pain sufferers become frustrated with their pain and the people who treat it. Many of the people who treat chronic pain are primary care physicians and not pain specialists.
In our recent discussion with Dr. Richard Radnovich, who is an osteopath and runs the Injury Care Medical Center in Boise Idaho, we probed about the communication gap that often exists between patient and provider. Dr. Radnovich is nationally known in the pain management field and has been involved with numerous clinical studies on pharmaceutical and medical devices that treat chronic pain (he’s working on studies in lower back pain and fibromyalgia currently).
We thought a couple of his answers regarding patient/provider communication were worth sharing.
National Pain Report: “What recommendations can you give to family practice/internist physician assistants and nurses about recognizing and treating a patient’s chronic pain?”
Dr. Radnovich: “Many non-pain specialists feel comfortable and do a great job treating chronic pain. Those providers listen to their patients and try a variety of medical and non-medical interventions. Practitioners need to trust their patients, have a legitimate medical purpose for prescribing and take steps to verify appropriate use. They should have a complete informed consent, a prescribing agreement, use functional status as a measure of success (not just pain scores), and use lab testing like urine drug screens.
The 2 biggest problems I see, actually, are the over reliance on opiates as mono-therapy and the under-treatment of pain. A ‘pain pill’, in my opinion, should rarely be the cornerstone of a treatment plan. Patients frequently have a good, partial response to treatment, but would do great if they had relatively modest increases in their opiates, or the addition of non-opioid medications for pain.”
National Pain Report: “Now, let’s ask that from the patient point of view. What should patients be sharing with their family practice/internist, p.a. and nurse about recognizing and treating their chronic pain.”
Dr. Radnovich: “Quite simply, vote with your feet. If you are not getting adequate treatment, find another provider; get another opinion. Describe your pain in terms of loss of function, what you cannot do that you would like to be able to do again. Set reasonable, specific goals. Patients have told me they would like to be able to walk their dog again, or swing a golf club. I had one patient say she would simply like to be able to get out of the bedroom and be with her family. When I heard that, it made the impact of her pain very real to me.”
Here’s the recent story we did with Dr. Radnovich regarding the state of pain management in the U.S. As we mentioned above, Dr. Radnovich is a nationally known instructor, researcher, author and expert on soft tissue injuries, pain management and injection techniques.
We will be sharing other opinions from other providers in future articles.
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