Patient Stories and Goals for Managing Pain

Patients are asked to identify specific goals at the start of a pain management program. These goals may include the following:

Reduction of pain intensity

Although patients rarely, if ever, report that their pain has been eliminated after a pain management program, they often report a reduction in pain intensity. Most patients enter a pain management program because of persistent pain, but they learn not to set pain elimination as their primary goal. Instead they are encouraged to focus on more attainable goals.

Enhancement of physical functioning

In group-based pain management programs, patients are encouraged to participate regularly in exercise (including stretching, cardiovascular conditioning, and weight training), and to increase their activity under supervision. The goal is to gradually increase function without exceeding limits of pain and discomfort. Patients have been known to increase their physical strength and endurance by 50 to 100 percent over a three-month period.

Proper use of medication

Through education and daily monitoring, most patients can use prescription pain medication responsibly. Participants are asked to monitor their medication for a week before entering a pain management program and to report their daily medication at the end of the program.

Improvement of sleep, mood and interaction with people

Many patients with persistent pain report feeling depressed and having problems relating to others. After most group-based pain programs, patients usually show evidence of improved sleep, decreased emotional distress and increased self-esteem.

Return to work or normal daily activities

Patients who set a goal to return to work are often successful. Follow-up helpfulness ratings indicate that patients who have a positive experience in a pain management program tend to return to work and/or maintain an active, productive lifestyle.

Patient Story: Birch Peterson

Birch Peterson attributes much of his success to the clinicians at the Center for Pain Medicine.

Birch Peterson, a hard-working father of two from Lunenburg, MA, was left in constant pain after he underwent many major surgeries to repair two ruptured discs, remove disc fragments in his spinal column and fuse two vertebrae.

Specialists in the Center for Pain Medicine implanted a neuro-stimulator that would “confuse the pain signal from my spinal cord to my brain,” says Peterson. “You still have pain, but the pain sensation is changed and you don’t feel it in the same way – it’s more like a tingling or buzzing sensation.”

After spending much of 10 years in bed, Peterson could return to working, walking in the woods and canoeing. “The level of care is unparalleled,” he says of the Center. “They won’t give up. And they are there whenever you need them.”

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