Today, The Huffington Post brought Dr. Elliot Krane, director of pain management at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University, in to emphasize the difference between pain, the purposeful, and the bane of millions of American’s existence, chronic pain, the disease. (Please click the picture of Dr. Krane with a blow torch for the video since wordpress.com has a distain for embedded html.) It’s a rare display of the aura of mystery surrounding the condition in the medical community. I applaud Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital for promoting a holistic approach to chronic pain within the confines of traditional western medicine.
I highly recommend Dr. Krane’s 2011 TED talk in which he elaborates on the mysteries behind chronic pain in fascinating and entertaining detail.
If you’ve ever been through pain management with a physician, then you might know what I’m talking about. After a complete workup by your specialist or primary care provider it’s finally determined that your pain is not caused by anything serious so it’s off to the pain management doctor. It may also be your experience that the cause is known, but nothing else can be done as far as treatment is concerned.
There is something rather heartbreaking to know there’s nothing wrong with you. Don’t get me wrong; I know it should feel great that there’s no insidious reason for your pain, but there is something deeply unsatisfying to know that there is nothing that can be fixed. Whether it’s a dubious diagnosis of “nerve pain,” “nerve damage,” fibromyalgia syndrome, or even something much more concrete like osteo arthritis, it’s off to pain management.
It represents a shift from treatment of the malady to the management of it. You know that with painful finality that treatment of the cause of your chronic pain shuts like a book and the only thing left to do is “manage.” It’s demoralizing at first to say the least. I know it’s difficult to accept that nothing else can be done. I wonder if anyone ever really does get over this. Perhaps you have. I would imagine that it is liberating to finally accept that this nagging pain is going to be with you for the rest of your life and put yourself full tilt into having a positive outlook and working with your pain management doctor.
Has anyone else had an experience like this?