Not a one-size-fits-all solution for chronic pain

We've all known someone profoundly affected by chronic pain. It is miserable to watch loved ones suffer, agonizing to stand in the presence of affliction in seeming helplessness. As a nurse practitioner at a pain treatment center, I can attest to this. I have seen it all first-hand.

My time on the work floor has taught me that every patient who comes through our door is distinctive, with their own story, history and challenges. I know that every positive outcome requires overcoming different obstacles and applying different solutions. Too often pain is treated as though it were a permanent fixture in peoples' lives, with invasive treatment administered that tampers with their ability to function and move forward. Pain is not synonymous with my patients' conditions - it's their underlying conditions that need to be addressed in order to restore normalcy. My job is so much more than briefly stopping pain. It's getting my patients back to where they were before, or as close to it as possible.

My goal is to discover the story behind the patients I encounter and to treat them accordingly. They are more than their pain, and there are other factors that come into play on their journey back to good health. A holistic method of investigation needs to be applied: are their spirits up, or do they need psychological intervention? Are they able to move adequately under their own steam, or do they need physical therapy? Are they on medications that might be countering the pain dosages they're already on? Are there emotional issues or dependencies that need to be addressed?

Healthcare today is ever-changing and every day we move forward toward providing improved care that moves beyond temporary solutions. My job is to learn from their stories and help those I meet find their happy endings.

Renata McGhee works in Springfield as Nurse Practitioner and Director of Clinical Compliance of LifeLinc Pain Centers. Contact Renata at rmcghee@lifelinc.com.

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