Editor’s Note: Dr Kent Smalley is a physician with history of personal pain illness issues and a voice for integrative healthcare philosophy, public health as well as an advocate for chronic pain & chronic illness sufferers. Read more about him on his website.
Chronic Pain care is not an either or proposition. And yet, it seems to be.
Polarization seems to be the unavoidable thorn in our society, but when it comes to major public health issues we need to change the discourse to a framework of healing principles. We have 2 growing crisis in the United States that need to be addressed; the inadequate treatment of chronic pain and the growing addiction problem.
Opiate misuse is certainly a major problem. The overdoses, accidental deaths and addiction numbers are astounding and have increased dramatically over the last decade. But at the same time we must recognize that there are people that need chronic long-acting opioid therapy and must have access to them for function and quality-of-life; these include patients with cancer, neuropathic pain syndromes and severe arthritis to name a few. It’s not the medications that are the problem; it is the people misusing them.
There are more and more strategies, caucuses and agendas regarding these issues but there is a great divide with polarizing discourse. It’s seems like two great armies both making dogmatic, reductionist, all or nothing, punitive statements that do not bring us closer to solutions or forward moving policy. I say we need to come together under the banner of healing, framing the discourse in recovery principles: education, rehabilitation, research and wellness. We must focus on education of patients, caregivers and healthcare providers on proper use of medications and all the opportunities for restoration of wellness. Also we need to focus education on opportunities to turn down the volume of pain like the complementary methods; herbal supplements, exercise, imagery, mindfulness meditation and hands-on therapy. Additionally, we need more funding for research, so we can discover the best validated conventional and complementary methods for treatment.
How to help now
- Change your discourse to a healing one
- Do your homework –get educated
- Work with your healthcare providers
- Politic, let’s get more research and education funding.
We need to come together for recovery for the sufferers of these diseases and make therapeutic opportunities available in a safe effective way.
It’s about time don’t you think?
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