By Jay Joshi, M.D.
(Dr. Joshi is a nationally recognized pain physician who will attend the CRPS Conference in Chicago on Saturday. What follows is his commentary about the conference specifically and the environment of chronic pain treatment generally)
With this recent election cycle, two topics have become very clear. We have issues in America with healthcare and discrimination. Access to healthcare (especially good healthcare) has diminished, premiums have gone up, deductibles have gone up, coverage has gone down, and the total cost of healthcare continues to rise. Discrimination, based on race, color, gender, disability, and more continues to be a problem. In some ways, it is worse than it was 10 years ago.
What we are seeing in our broader society seems to be amplified (much like the pain in CRPS) within the pain patient population. We are seeing access to good pain physicians diminishing, premiums for pain patients rising, deductibles rising, coverage for pain procedures diminishing, reimbursements diminishing (to the point where it costs more to do the procedure than we are getting reimbursed in some cases).
We are also seeing bigotry and discrimination increasing within the pain patient population. It seems that the general stereotype is that anyone who is on an opiate is a drug addict. Somehow pain MANAGEMENT is worthless if there isn’t a cure. While we are always working toward a “cure”, we are not there yet. And management is a lot better than the alternative, which is failure. Failure leads suicide, which I’ve become increasingly convinced some people who hate pain patients welcome with open arms. Patients with CPRS and central sensitization are doubly discriminated against because most people in our society (especially physicians) have little to no understanding or compassion toward the disease or the patient. Thus, their views and practice philosophies are based on stereotypes and opinions, not science. This leads to bigotry and discrimination. I’ve personally been a victim of both simply because I properly take care of and advocate for pain patients. In fact, this happened again to me this month.
Saturday’s conference may be the pivotal point in the management of CRPS and central sensitization. We all know ketamine infusions are helpful. The experts know the science behind it and it is not based on opinion or stereotype. We need to come together and fight these disgusting people who treat pain patients and legitimate pain physicians like some contagious disease that needs to be eradicated from the planet. There is a place for humanity in our society and a place to treat our fellow mankind with dignity and respect. There is no place for racists and bigots in our society or ignorant physicians and non-physicians who slander, defame, and threaten patients and their providers. So let’s stand united to defeat this insurgency of hate.