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“Chasing” pain

Posted May 13 2014 1:35pm

chronic-pain-management About 15 years ago, a physician friend discussed the difference between pain and suffering, and the different responses to each.

This article makes me wonder how often we fail to address suffering and focus exclusively on treating pain. That may make sense with acute pain, but addressing suffering seems to be an essential element of addressing chronic pain.

Today, most doctors remain focused on treating physical pain, which is just one symptom of chronic pain, experts say. And as a result, they also often “chase” pain, increasing opioid dosages as lower amounts become ineffective, exposing patients to more side effects.

“It becomes a vicious cycle,” said Roger Fillingim, a pain researcher at the University of Florida and a past president of the  American Pain Society , a professional medical group.

A 2008  study  by the Mayo Clinic found that patients who were weaned off opioids and put through a non-drug-based program experienced less pain than while on opioids and also significantly improved in function.  Other studies  have had similar findings.

UPDATE: Some recent posts have pointed out the lack of evidence for the use of opiates for long term management of chronic pain.

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