(This article does not represent an endorsement of any information presented. It is intended as an educational article and all should consult with their healthcare providers before changing any prescribed routine)
Those of us who have rheumatic and arthritic diseases are quite familiar with pain and with the inability or lack of desire of the general physician population to treat the pain. This is not meant as a damning statement because the system, which punished Doctors through malpractice suits and other means provided a strong barrier which the average practitioner could not or was afraid to break down. Nationally it is reported that more than 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. To date, managing this pain has not been a high enough priority for many doctors and medical institutions. For Pain treatment, those of us with chronic pain had to find a doctor or center, which specialized in pain management to get any relief.
Starting this week, a new set of national standards requires that healthcare centers begin screening every patient for their pain levels. Patients may be asked to rate their pain on a scale of zero to 10 with zero representing no pain and 10 extremely severe pain. These pain levels are to be recorded. Once determined and recorded, health care centers will have to determine a protocol to relieve the pain and will have to document the results.
Until the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations issued the new standards, there were no national standards for the management of pain. Recent studies of cancer patients suggest that some 40% receive inadequate pain medication. The new standards require that hospitals and nursing homes ensure that their staff are knowledgeable in the management of pain and also puts the burden of knowing how to manage pain on the patient and their families. The new standards put in writing that “patients have the right” to proper pain assessment and treatment.
Included in those who must take the steps are not just hospitals but also nursing homes and outpatient clinics. Today, many physicians shun narcotics as a viable pain relief treatment because they think that the patients will get hooked on them. According to the President of the American Pain Society, “This is not going to happen overnight”. She goes on on to say that “Patients are going to have to demand better care. Unrelieved pain has negative effects. Just like they need an antibiotic to treat infection, they need analgesics to treat their pain.” It is estimated that 9 percent of Americans suffer from chronic pain ranging from back injuries to rheumatoid arthritis. It is reported that experts say that four out of every 10 with moderate to severe pain do not get adequate relief. However, many patients do not know that they do not have to suffer, or that pain is more than bothersome, it actually hinders healing. Telling your doctor how much pain you are in is not going to bother them or keep them from treating your underlying disease.
One of the biggest challenges to treating pain is teaching non-pain specialists that narcotic painkillers called opioids (such as morphine, codine, and fentanyl) are the mainstay for many types of pain. While many doctors still hesitate to prescribe opioids because addicts can abuse them, the fact is that for people who have never abused drugs and have no history of psychological problems, hardly any become dependent on pain medicine.
This article consists of a compilation information gathered from the internet and is not intended to be a definitive source on pain management. You should consult with your physician about possible treatments for your pain. Before you demand treatment, it is suggested that you familiarize yourself with the new standards and with their intent. The Standards also recommend the use of alternative therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, physical therapy and massage. As one who has dealt with Pain and has used opioids and also many of the alternative treatments for pain, I encourage each of you to educate yourselves about shat is available for you.
There are lots of studies out now giving credence to some of the supplement therapies. But, as with everything else, for every legitimate product on the shelf, there are probably a dozen there with no intent but to give you a bottle of “Snake Oil” and make your wallet much thinner. Make sure you know your product, and the manufacturer. Consult with your pain management specialist about any alternative therapy.
As a final note, I have found that working with a team of pain management specialists, which can consist of a pain management physician, a psychiatrist, a therapist and a physical therapist along with your regular medical staff can and does provide the most benefit for you the patient. When you have a team that can and will sit down and discuss the different aspects of your treatment, it is much more likely that you will get consensus among them and get the proper pain management treatment(s).
I am including the URL’s for several sites that I found beneficial in researching this area. This is by no means an all-inclusive list. If you want more information beyond what you find here, just run a search for “Pain Management”. To limit the search you might also try searching for “jcaho+pain”