PAIN DISORDERS AND CHRONIC MEDICAL ILLNESSES

Most of us take our bodies for granted until we fall sick. Reactions upon learning of a serious medical condition are varied, but often very powerful. People can experience a sense of shock, confusion, denial, fear, anger, guilt, grief, and even a wish to avoid having to face the change not only in their lives, but also in how they view themselves. Along with treatment of the condition itself, treatment of the emotional and mental stress of coping with disease can be an important part of working towards better health.

Pain, even with non-life-threatening conditions, can also become a large factor in one’s quality of life and ongoing mental health. Pain, especially chronic pain, is a complex experience that affects thoughts, mood and behavior leading to isolation, immobilty, lack of vitality, depression, anxiety, loss of self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, and even inadvertant drug dependance. Depression can cause and intensify pain, and depressed individuals are at a three times the average risk for developing chronic pain. Sixty percent of patients that are being treated for pain conditions suffer from untreated depression and a higher percentage are undertreated. Some research shows that pain and depression share common pathways in the emotional (limbic) region of the brain. While it is rare to completely achieve absolute and sustained relief of chronic pain, pain management as a goal is an important step.

We at the Cairn Center believe in a collaborative (in conjuction with your primary care physician and other specialists) and comprehensive strategy that simultaneously treats your pain/chronic medical disorders along with the concurrent depression, anxiety and other psychiatric symptoms. We will regularly touch base with your other doctors, coordinate labwork, and review your medication lists to minimize drug interactions, wasteful testing, and unnecessary doctor visits so that you do not have to run around trying to stay on top of your healthcare. We believe that as your physicians we are responsible to work together to facilitate tests, referrals, and consultations that we think are needed to get you care in a timely manner.