Today we hear so much about the overuse and abuse of pain medications and the impact it has on our children, families and society. Some of those tragic instances could be avoided if we all had a better understanding of how to manage pain.

PAST TEMPORARY: WIth chronic pain, alleviating one aspect of discomfort doesn't alleviate the whole. To get back in gear, all parts of a patient's pain must be thoughtfully managed.

Pain management is unique

We are used to taking a pill to solve so many health problems. But there is no pill that can take away all our pain. There is no silver bullet for relieving pain.

When it comes to pain, we need more than medication. We need a balanced multi-disciplinary approach. Today we have a variety of options, even in the way that a medication is delivered. We can take a pill, we can use topical creams that deliver the medication through the skin and even have implanted devices that can automatically dispense the right amount of medication.

“Once pain is addressed, we can reduce our suffering, improve our function and enhance our quality of life.”

The balanced approach uses an array of therapies in combination to address our pain. Some include biofeedback, physical therapy, counseling, pacing, nutrition, a support group and a host of medical modalities. Once pain is addressed, we can reduce our suffering, improve our function and enhance our quality of life.

Personalized solutions to pain

Imagine that the person with pain is a car with four flat tires. The right medication can reduce his pain, putting air in one of his tires. But unless he finds a way to fill the other three tires, he'll be stuck on the side of the road. He needs to work with his health care providers using a multi-disciplinary strategy to find what will fill up the other three tires. For each of us, the combination that yields the best results will be different.

What is more, it is never just about the person with pain; the impact on the family is far greater than most realize. The only difference between a person with pain and the family is the family does not feel the physical pain. They struggle with the same fear, anger and stress as a person with pain.

It is possible to live a full life with pain, but we need to use a whole-person approach with the individual and family as part of the team. There is hope for a better tomorrow.