Last week I attended a webinar with TheMotherhood and Dr. Jennifer N Caudle of the American Osteopathic Association on the topic of chronic pain. This was really an interesting session and I think all of us in attendance learned quite a bit. I thought I would share with you as well.
First a few facts about chronic pain that Dr. Caudle shared with us:
- Pain can be caused by injury or trauma or from medical conditions such as arthritis and others
- Chronic pain is pain experienced for more than 3 months
- Chronic pain impacts more Americans than cancer, diabetes, and hear disease combined
- More than 76 million Americans live with pain every day
- Wintertime can mean more pain, especially for people 45 and older
- Freezing temperatures, slips and falls on ice, and snow shoveling are top triggers for winter aches and pains, especially common among older adults
So many of us think that if we see a physician about pain the answer they will give us is surgery or pain medications. We need to throw those assumptions out the window. Managing pain is very individual and there are many options. Dr. Caudle is a D.O. – Doctor of Osteopath. This is a physician who, just like an M.D. (medical doctor) have completed 4 years of medical school, residency programs, and board certification tests. A D.O. though takes a more “entire patient” type of approach when you come in with an issue. They also are trained in using their hands for manipulation as a form of treatment which means you can be seen and treated right when you go into the office often. All physicians have their own way of approaching how they treat their patients and it is really important to find the best fit for you – that might not be the doctor you have now or the doctor that your spouse has – find one that you really click with.
My husband is one of those who dislikes going to his doctor because he thinks it is always going to cost a small fortune, and to be honest his MD is one that likes a lot of expensive tests it seems so I can understand Hubby’s feeling on that. I am hoping to convince Hubby to see a D.O. though who might offer some other options. At the webinar cost was discussed because the doctor said she knew of patients where they said they should have physical therapy for several weeks, but the patients would not end up going but once because they could not afford it. If cost is any issue for you tell your doctor! They may be able to offer other ideas such as exercises or stretches you can do at home for free to help with pain. If medication is needed they can look at all the alternatives. The biggest point was to try to get in to see someone about your pain and making sure all of your issues are addressed instead of not going and “dealing with the pain” or a condition possibly getting worse.
We also discussed that so many people put off seeking treatment or answers for their pain during the holiday season. In surveys 55% of people would rather take down holiday decorations alone than see a physician about their pain, 44% would rather shovel snow for an hour, and even 33% would rather stand in line the day after Christmas to exchange and return gifts. Adding to that, since those folks are putting off getting help they are doing those tasks in pain too! Putting off seeing a physician during the holidays can really take away from your enjoyment of the season. I for one know I am cranky and crabby when I do not feel good or something hurts. Squeeze that appointment into your schedule even during this time of the year so that you can get some answers and relief and be able to enjoy the season and time with family and friends.
The AOA (American Osteopathic Association) has more information about pain on their site along with many other health issues. If you have pain try taking their short pain quiz to see if you should see a physician. They also offer a Pain Assessment and Daily Journal that you can fill out and take to the doctor with you to help them better understand how to help you. The AOA is on Facebook and on Twitter @AOAforMedia.
Are you or someone you know living with chronic pain? What is stopping you from seeing a physician about it?
Disclosure: I received a stipend for attending the webinar and sharing what I learned from AOA via TheMotherhood. The opinions stated are my own and I am not offering medical advice.
© 2012, Robyn Wright. All rights reserved.