Murray J. McAllister, PsyD
Murray J. McAllister, PsyD, is the editor and founder of the Institute for Chronic Pain (ICP). The ICP is an educational and public policy think tank. Its mission is to lead the field in making pain management more empirically supported. Additionally, the ICP provides Academic quality information on chronic pain that is approachable to patients and their families. Dr. McAllister is also the clinical director of pain services for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute (CKRI), part of Allina Health, in Minneapolis, MN. Among other services, CKRI provides chronic pain rehabilitation services on a residential and outpatient basis.
In the last post, we started a discussion about how people cope with chronic pain really well. Specifically, we looked at five attributes and skills that people do when coping well with chronic pain. The point of the discussion was that it is a way to learn how to cope better. Coping with chronic pain is a set of skills like any other set of skills and you learn how to cope with pain just like you learn other skills – like learning how to knit or play the piano or play tennis.
If you wanted to learn how to knit well, you might take a class at your community craft store. You might also get a how-to book out of the library or watch a few YouTube videos. But as you did all these things, you would also pay attention to those who already knit well and watch how they do it. You would then try to do what they do.
I recently came across this blog post in my reading and thought that it would be a good conversation starter. In the post, Mark MacLeod, MD, raises the point that we need to have an on-going discussion about values in healthcare. Dr. MacLeod is on to something here. In his piece, Dr. MacLeod is writing within and about the Canadian healthcare system. However, his point is applicable to any country’s healthcare system. We need to engage in a communal dialogue about our values when it comes to what we should (or should not) do with our healthcare systems.
Thomas Kuhn, a historian of science, popularized the notion of a scientific paradigm in the second half of the 20th century and since then almost every significant change in a field of study gets characterized as a paradigm shift. So, it is a bit of a cliché to talk of the paradigm shift that is going on in the field of chronic pain management. Nonetheless, it is true. We are actually witnessing it happening.
If you have chronic pain, you also have to deal with stigma. Stigma is the disapproval by others for how you are coping with pain. Friends, loved ones, employers, and even healthcare providers can judge you in any number of ways. They might disapprove when you rest or nap, or if you don’t work, or if you take narcotic pain medications. Such critical judgments from others are stigma.
Let’s talk about something that is hard to talk about. It’s the issue of stigma. It’s a sensitive topic.
Your injury was many months ago. You initially saw your primary care provider who sent you to a pain clinic. The provider at the pain clinic who evaluated you may have been a surgeon who told you to come back after you have gone to the interventional pain provider and physical therapist. You subsequently underwent evaluations and started care with each of these providers. You had this procedure and that procedure. You went to physical therapy. You did it all in the hopes that they would find the source of the pain and fix it. None of it really worked, though.
It would be nice if once you were diagnosed with chronic pain your provider would hand you an instruction manual. It could be titled something like, “How to Navigate the Healthcare System When It Comes to Chronic Pain.”
The Institute for Chronic Pain (ICP) would like to welcome a guest post by Jen of Pain Camp. Camper Jen, as she goes by, is the founder of Pain Camp, which is a wonderful blog and website on chronic pain from the perspective of someone who has chronic pain and who has participated in a chronic pain rehabilitation program. Her site, as well as her personal story, is one of how to go from SURVIVING to THRIVING despite having chronic pain. Her spirit is admirable and her testimony is inspiring.
Body in Mind - Research into the role of the brain and mind in chronic pain. HealthSkills - Skills for healthy living for health professionals working in chronic pain management. How to Cope with Pain - A resource for those with chronic pain, their families and friends, and for those who treat patients with chronic pain. My Cuppa Jo - A blog that offers insights and practical tips on living life to the fullest despite having chronic pain. Pain Camp - Tools to manage your pain so you can move on with life.