Controversy Grows over Journal Article on Pain Treatment

It’s not uncommon for colleagues in the medical profession to disagree. Egos and different medical backgrounds can sometimes lead to heated discussions about the best way to treat patients. But those arguments are usually kept private. That is why it is so unusual for a prominent pain physician to publicly call for another doctor to resign or be fired from her faculty position at a prestigious medical school.
“I believe she should resign her academic post,” says Forest Tennant, MD, referring to Jane Ballantyne, MD, a professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, who recently co-authored a controversial article in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) that said reducing pain intensity should not be the goal of doctors who treat chronic pain patients. The article also suggests that patients should learn to accept their pain and move on with their lives.
“For somebody in her position as a professor at a university to call for physicians to quit treating pain – or pain intensity – whether acute, chronic, whether rich, poor, disabled or what have you, is totally inappropriate. And it’s an insult to the physicians of the world and an insult to patients. And frankly, she should not be a professor.” Tennant told Pain News Network.
“To suggest that physicians should no longer treat pain intensity and let patients suffer goes beyond any sort of decency or concern for humanity.”

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A Holistic Approach To Pain Management

Helping to alleviate chronic pain in people involves more than just prescribing pills for them to pop or giving them a shot. Pain management, or algiatry, is the medical specialty of preventing, evaluating, treating, and rehabilitating persons in pain. Chronic pain may have originated with an injury or infection or there may be an ongoing cause of pain. Some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage. Whatever the cause of the pain, its management and relief should take a multidisciplinary and holistic approach.

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Pain Management: Pacing and Goal Setting

Chronic pain can change the way that people live their lives and carry out their daily activities. For example many people found that they could no longer perform certain tasks without experiencing increased pain and fatigue. This could lead to them becoming increasingly inactive, or catching up on jobs when they had a good day, which then lead to a flare-up of pain and the need to rest up for a few days (see also ‘Coping with flare-up’). Many of the people that we talked to had learnt techniques to manage their activities, minimise their pain and help prevent flare-ups. Usually these techniques had been learnt on NHS Pain Management Programmes through healthcare professionals, or support groups, but others had learnt through the Internet or books (see also ‘Learning about pain management’; ‘NHS pain management programmes’).

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How Many Pain Doctor’s Have You Seen?

How Many Opiates Do You Take A Day?

Have you had to sign a pain contract with your physician?

What Is Your Diagnosis?