Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pain Treatment from Multiple Specialists' Points of View

What is pain? I personally asked myself this question time and again as I read the articles (specifically the Raheim, Crawford and Mowat articles). Of course, it is subjective. On a day when I have an excruciating headache, how does that compare to an individual who suffers from migraines? If we were both to rank our intensity of pain on a scale from 1-10, would an 8 mean the same thing for both of us? Seems relative to me.

Last summer I began intensely looking for answers, and hopefully subsequent relief, for chronic neck and back pain. A sports doctor, a pain management specialist, a deep-tissue massage therapist, a chiropractor/acupuncturist… Each of them asked me to fill out a packet (some a couple pages, other nearly 15). I became very familiar with the multi-view body illustration within the forms, on which I was asked to shade the areas of the body where I was feeling pain. I’m pretty sure each diagram (while a few key areas were always shaded) looked differently, depending on the day (which concerned me because I would think, "What if I'm not shading the center of all my problems?"). I was becoming desperate for relief, especially once feedback from the plethora of doctors/specialists started to have common themes… chronic pain and fibromyalgia.

So, sure, I was having more and more difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, I was regularly feeling exhausted, and my self-designated responsibilities at home with my family were becoming more and more stagnant. But, I refused to give into a diagnosis of fibromyalgia (apparently internal LOC). The reason was because, personally, that seemed like an easy way out. When it is not officially designated as a disease and there is no underlying cause or explanation for its occurrence, then, no, such an informal diagnosis was not acceptable to me. Like Ester in the Raheim article, I have days, or moments within the course of a day, where the pain and discomfort leaves me altogether. So, I begin deducing the situation to one that is more psychologically based. My way of dealing with stress or anxiety is taken out on my body physically through muscle spasms and overall tension. Allow that type of circumstance to last over a long period of time, and it becomes chronic.

The doctor or chiropractor would often ask me on a scale of 1 – 10, what was my pain that day. Well, depending on how I felt I was handling the pain that number would dramatically fluctuate. A rating of four one day, where I felt positive and had a good outlook, would sharply contrast to a rating of 7 or 8, where I felt hopeless, frustrated and exhausted. However, the actual pain level may, in fact, be relatively similar.

The point of me pouring over my ridiculous state of affairs is because, from a biomedical model approach, I am beginning to see that my interactions with the complex network of medical services in our community still leaves me feeling like my collective state goes unnoticed. Every professional understands their specialty, and so I am “treated” based on how to know to deal with me. Each visit with someone else starts at square one. Crawford’s examination of MPQ, and how it actually tries to provide some form of consistency across the medical professionals for the sake of the patient, offered a slight glimmer of hope. However, it’s hard to believe, for the sake of finding the best and holistic treatment among an un-unified team of medical professionals, that providing a cohesive and understood set of terms is going to lead to a more unified and, most importantly, personal approach to healing.

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