Jenny L. F. Andrus, MD
If you asked ten chronic pain patients what the goals were for their pain management program, you’d probably hear ten very different answers, but with one goal in common – MAKE MY PAIN GO AWAY! While that is certainly an important goal, it is not the only or most important goal of a comprehensive pain management regimen. In this article, I will discuss what the clinical goals of pain management are and how those should be incorporated into any treatment plan that is developed for a chronic pain patient for optimal results.
- Improve Quality of Life
This is goal #1 for me when I treat my patients. Certainly, controlling pain has a lot to do with a patient’s quality of life, but not everything. What is important to you? Your family? Friends? Activities? What did you enjoy doing before pain became a part of your life? I want to get you back to the place where you can do the things you want to do again, without focusing solely on your pain.
2. Reducing Patient Discomfort and Pain Intensity
Who among us wakes up perfectly pain free every day? Most of us have some aches and pains that we deal with every day, but we don’t classify it as chronic pain. For most chronic pain patients, achieving a totally pain-free life is often unrealistic, so instead we focus on a reduction in painful symptoms, to a manageable and livable level. Maybe that can be achieved through an in-office procedure to address the root cause of a medical issue or maybe through a combination of Physical Therapy, non-narcotic medications, and Behavioral counseling. Each patient is different, and treatment can be specifically tailored.
3. Enhancing Physical Functioning
Research proves that lack of movement makes pain worse, and that movement can be of tremendous benefit to pain patients. My goal is to find a balance for you that allows you to get exercise while not causing too much pain. If you’re too out of condition, Physical Therapy may be needed to help you gain strength and function. Then, we can explore gentle exercise options such as walking, swimming, yoga, aquatics, etc. that can get you back into greater activity with ease.
4. Improvement of Mental Wellbeing
Having chronic pain often causes depression, anxiety, guilt, sadness, remorse, feelings of loss, and sometimes engenders feelings of self-harm. These feelings are entirely normal and should be addressed as part of your treatment. OSC has a Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Andrew Martin, whose job is to work with our chronic pain patients and to provide the emotional support and coping resources they need to deal with their chronic pain. His services are part of our comprehensive, inter-disciplinary approach to treating pain at OSC.
5. Appropriate Use of Medications
Many have the misconception that pain management means taking as many narcotic pills as you want. In no way is that ethical pain management. My role as your physician is to only prescribe medication when absolutely necessary and that applies especially to narcotics. I take this part of my job very seriously and am committed to my patient’s safety and well-being in my prescribing methods.
These are the five major goals of Pain Management which I use in treating chronic pain patients every day.