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  • Dr. James H. Gruft

What is comprehensive pain management? Dr. Gruft explains.

Updated: May 28



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.



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