If you have a heart problem you go to a cardiologist and get it taken care of. If you have complex diabetes, you go to an endocrinologist and get it taken care of. If you have cancer, you go to an oncologist and get it taken care of. Where do you go if you have pain?
You might think you go to a "Pain Specialist." Who might that be? Here's a short list of possibilities: A psychiatrist, an anesthesiologist, a physiatrist, a neurologist, a psychologist; or different individuals who practice massage, acupuncture, or hypnosis; or interventional pain physicians, or a physician who favors the use of medicines, or physicians who prefer not to use pain medicines. This is the short list of possibilities.
If you are like many, perhaps most, people living with chronic pain, you have tried the whole list and then some---and this journey may have taken years. Each stop along the way typically there is hope; there are tests and treatments, and many failures. The maze itself is an enormous physical and emotional ordeal----subjecting the body, mind, and soul to physical and chemical incursions and a roller coaster of optimism, fears, many times humiliations, and disappointments. The lucky ones find the treatment or combination of treatments along the way that work and get to step out of the maze. Many just continue in the maze looking for relief and the way out and the journey is a depressing nightmare.
The maze phenomenon is a reflection of what little knowledge and understanding exists about pain. Lets face it, if you went to someone who knew what is needed to effectively assess and treat pain in the first place, you would not enter the maze. One thing we do know about pain now that we did not know 15 or even 10 years ago is how incredibly complex it is. There are many kinds of pains and many mechanisms of how pain is caused and operates---all of which leads to and requires many types of treatments. We know that pain is multi-systemic---it overlaps our muscular-skeletal system, our nervous system, our psychological/emotional system, our complete mind/body system. The silos of medical expertises cannot grasp this complexity and individual treatments often remain ineffectual.
Have you gotten out of the maze? How did you do it?
Published On: June 16, 2008