Active Participation of Individuals Suffering Pain in Treatment Decisions

Pain Management

“We certainly cannot succeed as a culture by continuing to deny and ignore pain, as if we could silence it beneath a mountain of pills.” David Morris, The Culture of Pain

An individual who is suffering pain must be seen as a multifaceted, whole system requiring multidisciplinary treatment strategies. This is because pain is a complex interplay of emotions, culture, experience, spirit and sensation. Successful pain management is largely contingent upon the active and responsible participation of the individual suffering pain in determining treatment options.

A vast array of therapeutic options are available to individuals in pain, ranging from traditional medicine to various complementary disciplines. Today’s pain patients may select Western medicine, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, chiropractic, nutrition, supplementation, body work, yoga and psychology, to name only a few. The path to pain reduction lies in the power of applying many different healing therapies in a way that complements the individual’s needs, beliefs and personality. While each of these therapies offer healing, the individual suffering pain remains the key component to pain reduction. Each individual must believe and affirm that pain can be reduced and then select those therapies which will assist in doing so.

Health care professionals are not mind readers. Individuals suffering pain must assume the responsibility of communicating clearly with health care professionals and should clearly articulate such things as their level of pain, the intensity of their pain, how they are feeling, and what daily tasks have become difficult or impossible due to the pain. Individuals must give important information openly and responsibly so that effective treatment decisions can be developed in partnership with the health care professional.

It is not productive for the individual suffering pain to passively hand the responsibility of their pain to the health care professional because it sets in motion the potential for anger and unfulfilled expectations. This is because individuals who do not accept responsibility for the role and meaning that pain plays in their life do not have incentive to change their pain behavior or patterns, and because a single health care professional is unlikely to “fix the pain problem” due to the complex interplay of emotions, culture, spirit, sensation and physiology involved in the experience of pain. This makes it necessary for individuals in pain to become self-advocates in trying to break the cycle of pain.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “There is no knowledge that is not power.” These words resonate with truth today as they did when they were written. The more informed individuals suffering pain become, the more likely it is for them to make better choices for themselves. Individuals who feel informed and in control, despite their pain, are more likely to lead happier, more productive lives. This makes it important for individuals suffering pain to become responsible and active participants in their treatment decisions and their quest for palliation. These individuals should establish the meaning that pain holds in the context of their every day life and should adjust their choices and activities accordingly.

For additional information…
The American Academy of Pain Management provides a Board Certification for practitioners from among many disciplines who routinely work with individuals and families in distress. Professionals interested in learning more or clients who desire information regarding practitioners in their area who are Board Certified, should contact:
American Academy of Pain Management
975 Morning Star Dr Ste A, Sonora, CA 95370
Phone (209) 533-9744