I just finished reading an article written by a physician who specializes in hospice care. I think she brings up some interesting points that relate to chronic pain and pain management in general, so that's what I am writing about in today's post.
First and foremost, the author says that she originally intended to be a psychologist, but changed course and became a physician because she thought psychology had too many "grey areas" while medicine was more "black and white." She goes on to say that she could not be more wrong about medicine...that there are, in fact MANY "grey areas" in medicine. And isn't pain management one of those?
Pain is a subjective thing. If a patient self reports pain, that is all that is needed to justify its existence. There is no blood test or x-ray or any other test to confirm its existence. We try to quantify pain by using methods of measurement, such as pain scales, to decide how severe it is. However, aren't there really many different kinds of pain? And pain scales are really a subjective measure of pain severity. There is nothing really objective pain scales if you think about it.
Taking pain medication for pain does often provide symptomatic relief for a patient who is in pain. But it is merely a short term fix. Beyond, that, it is not the answer. At this point it is important for medical providers to use objective methods find the source of a patients pain using whatever means necessary: lab tests, x-rays, MRI, and such.
Once the cause of pain is established, it is important to find a long-term or permanent solution to the problem, and intervene as soon as possible. For many conditions, early intervention helps to prevent further complications that can result from leaving a medical condition uncorrected for too long. Sometimes the only thing that one can do is actively manage a condition; for other conditions a surgery or medical procedure might just do the trick.
There's an old saying..better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. An appropriate thought to end this post....
source: Pratt Tribune,wikimedia,Amazon