“Many people do not realize the toll stress can have on their lives. Caring for mind and body leads to a healthier, happier and more productive life.” Cynthia Wainscott

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January 30, 2017

Better Treatment for Chronic Pain

The Sacramento Bee published today (6.23.2016) an article exploring reasons why so many chronic pain patients are on opioid medications even though it has been well established that non-drug treatments are more effective and gains made are maintained.

HI_RES__MG_5170 as Smart Object-1Barry Meier & Abby Goodnough of the New York Times reported that a “2008 study by the Mayo Clinic, … found that patients who were weaned off opioids and undergo a non-drug-based program … experienced less pain then while on opioids and also significantly improved in function. Other studies had similar findings.”  Yet, only a small number of patients and their doctor see non-drug-based treatments as a course of action for them and their patients.  Here are some of the reasons.

  • Taking a pill is simply faster and easier than attending a Chronic Pain Management Program several days a week
  • Opioids appear to provide a faster and cheaper solution than teaching patients how to control their own pain.  We know however, that long-term outcomes are better with nondrug treatments.
  • Physicians and pain specialists are trained in prescription medication and are satisfied when the pain is controlled.  They frequently do not have the time to address the withdrawal from wanting to work, the lack of interest in interacting with friends or even family, or the increasing concerns over dependence, hyperagesia (increased pain sensitivity due to opiate use) and addiction.
  • Insurance coverage for non-drug-based chronic pain management is spotty at best, even though in recent months federal agencies and state health officials have urged doctors to first treat chronic pain without using opioids, and some have announced plans to restrict how many pills a doctor can prescribe.

Integrative and alternative treatment programs for chronic pain are available and Health Psychology Sacramento has offered chronic pain management for the past 10 years.  Currently our clinic is partnering with Dignity Health’s Residency Program for Family Physicians to teach physicians in the utility of non-drug-based approaches.

If you are a patient and suffering from chronic pain and feel your life is compromised by your pain, give me a call.  I am the director of Health Psychology Sacrament and you can reach me, Dr. Ursula Stehle at 916-962-0222, ext 1#.  You and your family deserve for you to feel better and again be an active participant.  Recovery is possible

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