If you are suffering with chronic pain, get some help! Although the help you need may not be around the corner, it is available.
If possible, find a pain center that your insurance will pay for. Pain centers should combine physical, mental, and medical approaches and provide support from both professionals and other people living with pain. Some have brief residential programs followed by outpatient services. Most are entirely outpatient, and appointments are scheduled for several times a week at first, until a person’s pain is controlled adequately. A pain center may provide physical therapy, counseling, medication, self-management training, and more.
With or without a pain center, it’s best to find a pain specialist you feel you can trust. According to Dr. Burt, “A good pain specialist is open to different approaches — whatever works for you. You don’t want someone who is pushing one particular thing. Expect that a variety of healing modalities will be needed.”
She says a good pain doctor has a sense of humor, listens to you, gives you hope, and is open to trying new things. “A pain specialist should care about all aspects of your life. She knows that a lot of the responsibility for pain treatment is yours, and empowers you to take it.”
An important part of pain treatment is the support of other people. Being with other people who live with pain and understand what you’re going through makes you feel better and gives you courage. The support of others makes you stronger. It increases your confidence to try new things.
If you can’t find a chronic pain program, perhaps you can find a chronic pain support group. Or perhaps you can start your own or join an online group. Your doctor may be able to connect you to other patients with pain issues. Chronic pain specialists often say, “The group is the medicine.” So join one!
You may not be able to completely eliminate pain. But you can eliminate suffering. You can make pain a smaller and smaller part of your life and become healthier in the process.