I recently ran across an article reporting on a presentation by Michael J Cousins AM, MD, DSc, professor and director of the Pain Management Research Institute at the University of Sydney, Royal North Shore Hospital, in Australia. Please see below some of the highlights from his presentation to the 24th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida on February 14, 2008.
“Chronic pain is different from acute pain,” explained Dr. Cousins. “If pain persists despite reasonable treatment from a primary care physician and other specialists, the advice of a pain medicine specialist should be sought. The earlier such help is obtained the greater the chance of returning to a reasonable range of life activities.” Dr. Cousins has been the driving force in Australia, as well as internationally, in drawing attention to evidence that shows that severe persistent pain becomes a “disease entity” and has also championed the concept of pain relief as a basic human right.
To read the entire article please go to:
It has been my experience that when a chronic pain condition is not accurately diagnosed and effectively treated within the first six months, major life-damaging problems occur. What starts out to be complaints about severe pain impacting functioning and quality of life, often amplifies into coexisting psychological disorders including addiction.
Some of the common problems people experience are sleep disturbances, depression disorders, anxiety and stress disorders, substance use disorders including abuse, addiction or pseudoaddiction, cognitive impairment (problems with thinking) and even eating disorders. Many of these conditions go undetected by healthcare providers until they are so severe it takes a major intervention to just contain the situation.
I agree with Dr. Cousins that living with debilitating chronic does become a disease or syndrome in and of itself. Not only does it affect the person’s physical health and psychological functioning, it also impacts the person’s relationships with family, friends and coworkers. For many people it also damages their spiritual condition. We need to move beyond symptom management—e.g. numbing the person out with powerful pain medications—and start treating the whole person.