Updated: a day ago

Comprehensive pain management is a special form of treatment. It is an intensive attempt to deal with every major aspect of our life vis-a-vis chronic pain. If a pain clinic only offers injections and medication, it is not comprehensive pain management. If a clinic only offers psychological counseling, social service, biofeedback, and self-hypnosis, that is also not comprehensive pain management. If a clinic provides physical therapy with joint and soft tissue mobilization and modalities like electrical stimulation, ultrasound, laser therapy, hot packs, cold packs, magnets, and self-massage instruments that is also not comprehensive pain management.

Comprehensive pain management means that physical, psychological, interpersonal, and spiritual aspects of a person's pain are, to some extent, all addressed by a team of clinicians. Healing requires us to be whole, and wholeness requires all the different aspects of our life be united.

Generally, pain management programs in the U.S are day treatment programs. Day treatment means that the patient leaves at the end of the day. The hours per day, per week, and the duration of individual programs can vary. The essential factor that distinguishes a comprehensive pain management program is the core team's ability to cover the essential, multidimensional aspect of a person’s pain. The core team consists of physicians, physical therapists, and psychologists.

By the time a person has completed a comprehensive pain management program (CPMP), he or she has been exposed to a large range of pain management tools, and selects the ones that work the best for him or her. Additionally, the individual is regularly engaged in a well-rounded exercise program to help with flexibility, strength, and endurance. Demystified, medications become a tool like any other. They are used to allow a person's function to increase, and a prescribing physician works with the patient to achieve an acceptable risk to benefit ratio.

In short, participation in a pain management program allows patients to acquire tools and skills to improve their lives. Even with the pain, they now have ways and means to enjoy an active lifestyle.

  • Dr. James H. Gruft

Once we start to face our pain, we realize that its message is not one of annihilation. Pain by itself, is not out to kill us. The only way we lose if we give up. To break the cycle of pain-inactivity-weakness-pain, we have to be willing to do things that may even increase our pain(without causing injury). We may have to walk into the very fire of pain. If it is an exercise-included, healthy type of pain, it is a price that we are willing to pay. Our decision to stand fast will transform us from an individual who passively experiences pain in a meaningless way to someone who actively, courageously experiences pain in order to regain our flexibility, strength, and dignity.

Without a change in approach, the person in pain and his or her physician can easily get caught up in endless, pointless treatments, with the suffering individual being endlessly referred to numerous health care professionals. At best, these treatment approaches offer only temporary relief. Why? To treat chronic pain as an exclusive entity is to treat it incompletely. As we know from our experience with infectious diseases, to treat someone incompletely with antibiotics can create a more resistant strain of bacteria that might make the person worse than before the treatment began. Similarly, to treat someone's chronic pain incompletely is to leave the untreated aspects lying dormant and festering.

Does this mean that chronic pain is not a signal of injury, like acute pain is? Probably not. Or perhaps it is a signal of a less obvious kind of injury, one that has deeper roots. The pain may be telling us to take a stock of our lives and our present wounds and to look at what we are doing with our life, so we can move forward on our life’s journey. We need to ask the right questions and never stop to ask what our pain might be saying to us, we may never hear it’s message.

We need to see our pain in a greater context: as something deep with us, which cannot be looked upon as purely physical or psychological. Deep pain cannot be just physical, because we are not only physical beings. It cannot be just physical and psychological, because we are not simply physical and psychological. Deep pain is physical, psychological, and spiritual because all three aspects of our life are fundamental to our existence. If we do not take the time to understand what meaning our pain has in our life - how it affects us in present, how it relates to our earlier pains - and if we don't seek to understand its physical, psychological and spiritual components, we cannot put our pain in proper perspective. However, if we truly wish to heal, what choice do we have? We have to do this work. Without knowing where our pain belongs in our life, we will never be able to arrive at the point where our suffering becomes manageable and healing commences.

Looking for a cure can take precious time away from us - time that we could have used in more beneficial ways. We could achieve a far greater impact on our life by facing our pain. This is the first step we must table towards managing our pain so that it no longer controls our life. But how do we manage pain? That is what we will consider next.

Updated: May 22

What happens when you avoid pain?

The world shrinks when we avoid pain.It is not only our muscles and tendons that shrink when we avoid pain, our fear of pain makes our world shrink. As we cut ourselves off from painful activities, our worlds get smaller and smaller. Sadly, the things that offer us most joy are often the first things we give up. Long vacations, trips to-distant relatives or friends, going out socially, sports, hiking, and physical intimacy that we look forward to doing on a daily basis. As we let go of things we like to do those activities that bring us joy we are cutting ourselves off what enrich- es our lives. It’s as if we’re trying to bargain with a threatening stranger.

If we are always trying to avoid pain, we are on the path of retreat. Our world will get smaller and smaller as we avoid more and more activities that hurt. The path of retreat is the road of self oblivion, which is a road that we cannot afford to travel. Pain may be strange and mysterious and unwelcome, but it shouldn’t be allowed to become our master. We must stand. It will not do us any good to retreat. We need to meet our enemy face to face. After totally exhausting after placing ourselves in the hands of the right doctors, the right massage therapist, the right acupuncturist, physical therapist, the right chiropractor, the right herbalist, the right nutritionist, the right healer or the right astrologist all of the purpose of finding the perfect cure now, exhausted and weary and still with pain, we must take up our cross and carry it. That is to say, we must face our pain. Such a step requires a paradigm shift, a new way of thinking.

How is pain management different from pain treatment?

Because the pain is not going away, we must learn to deal with it, so it does not take over our lives. If we chose to journey down the road to endless treatments, our suffering may become deeper and more insidious. The alternative is to increase function in a systematic manner in spite of pain, an approach is called “pain management.” Pain management is a step on the road to healing.

But if the pain has become so severe and pervasive that our life is threatening to collapse under its weight? The approach required is comprehensive pain management. The term “comprehensive pain management” refers to a programmatic approach offered in some clinics and hospitals throughout the country, which is designed to help people manage their pain. It is one approach.

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