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.
When going to a pain clinic, there is one thing that patients should always keep in mind: It’s that not all pain clinics are alike.
More often than not, patients are referred to one or another type of clinic, without knowing that there are different types of clinics with different ways of treating chronic pain -- even when it comes to the same conditions. Moreover, the different types of clinics are not all similarly effective. Research on the effectiveness of different types of common treatments for chronic pain show wide variations in how effective they are.
There is no one discipline within healthcare that specializes in chronic pain management. No one, for instance, can get an M.D. or a Ph.D. in pain management. Instead, many different types of healthcare providers can specialize in delivering chronic pain management services.
Opioid, or narcotic, pain medications are beneficial in many ways. Patients with pain from terminal cancer benefit from their use. Patients benefit from their short-term use when recovering from an acute injury or following a painful surgical procedure. However, the long-term use of opioid medications for chronic, noncancer pain remains quite controversial.
Most everyone has back pain at some point in their lives. At any given time, twenty-five percent of the population report having low back pain.1 Forty-three percent of the population report having neck pain.2
We live in an age of chronic health conditions. Chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disorders, obesity, and sleep apnea are just a few of the most common chronic conditions. Many patients and healthcare providers attempt to treat these conditions by solely medical approaches. It makes sense, of course. Many, if not most, of these conditions are medical conditions. So, it makes sense to take medications and get different types of medical procedures and surgeries in order to try to get better. These medical treatments are usually worthwhile to pursue.
What is a chronic pain rehabilitation program?
Chronic pain rehabilitation programs are a traditional type of chronic pain management. They have long been used to help patients with chronic pain live a normal life. People who most benefit from chronic pain rehabilitation programs are those who have come to accept that their pain is truly chronic and cannot be cured. So, they want to learn what they can do to live a normal life despite having chronic pain.
Pain management is a catchall phrase used to describe multiple types of healthcare services for pain. Pain management can include the following types of services:
What is shoulder pain?
Shoulder pain is common. Sometimes, it occurs in an acute manner, such as in a sports injury or when it becomes dislocated. Other times, it comes and goes, such as when people have bursitis. Sometimes, it lasts longer. Tendinitis can continue for some time but can usually be improved with care. In most cases of chronic shoulder pain, it is due to osteoarthritis.
What is sciatica?
Sciatica is a common pain condition marked by pain, numbness and/or tingling beginning in the buttock and oftentimes extending down the leg, all the way to the foot.
What is reflex sympathetic dystrophy?
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is an uncommon nerve-related pain condition. It can occur in any body part, though it typically occurs in an arm or leg. It has a typical set of signs and symptoms in the affected body part:
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