Chronic Pain: Connexions Resource Centre hosts conference
Reuel S. Amdur
One in five Canadians is living with chronic pain. And of that 20%, 60% have mental health issues. These startling statistics were revealed on a virtual conference provided by Connexions Resource Centre, streaming a program from the Community Health and Social Services Network. Presenters at the conference were Dr. Natalie Zur Nedden, Clinical Research Associate, at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and Dr. Etienne Bisson, Research Coordinator of the Chronic Pain Clinic, Kingston Health Sciences Centre.
The bad news is that, thanks to limited funding for pain care, shortage of pain specialists, COVID-19 and the opioid crisis, it can take two years or more to get access to a pain clinic. The good news is that there are now excellent services on the web. www.tamethebeast.org is a user-friendly explanation of chronic pain, while www.poweroverpain.ca goes beyond explanation, focusing on what to do in the person’s particular case. It speaks to resources available in various situations, for example, depending on the degree of disability due to the pain. The site also connects you with Homewood Health Centre offering phone mental health
Previously, a purely medical approach was the way of chronic pain. Current thinking is to take a “whole person approach,” a psychosocial approach, addressing needs to improve quality of life and functioning.
Presenters explained that pain is produced by the brain, not by the particular body part where pain is experienced. Illustrating this fact, the Taming the Beast site gives the example of pain suffered in a leg that had been severed and was no longer there. Pain has a protective function, alerting the person to a bodily threat. Chronic pain is memory of that threat, memory that has not extinguished when no longer needed.
Two useful takeaways. Bisson stresses the importance of moving, while not going to extremes. Even slight movement can help. “Anything is better than nothing.” And Zur Nedden, recommends mindfulness meditation/ breathing.
This statement could be interpreted as getting a pain consultation with a pain specialist. And that's not the purpose of our partnership with Homewood Health services.