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Show 1178: Do We Need a Revolution in Managing Pain?

Opioids are an important tool for managing pain, but they are not the only option. Dr. Sean Mackey says we need a revolution in thinking about pain.
Show 1178: Do We Need a Revolution in Managing Pain?
Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, Redlich Professor and Chief of the Division of Pain Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine
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Do We Need a Revolution in Managing Pain?

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Pain is a difficult topic. To begin with, the experience of pain is completely subjective. There are no independent objective measures that doctors can use to assess a patient’s pain. They have to take her word for it. Second, pain has a very significant emotional component that must be addressed along with any physical causes. In addition, pain affects more than a single individual. Each patient’s pain affects his entire family and network of significant social contacts. That means managing pain has wide ramifications.

Managing Chronic Pain:

Sometimes, acute pain that has a discrete, observable cause lingers even after the cause is treated. How does chronic pain develop? When pain becomes a complex regional pain syndrome, it can be extremely difficult to treat. However, our guest, Dr. Sean Mackey, has a six-pronged strategy for managing pain.

The Problems with Opioids for Managing Pain:

Physicians often use opioids as a primary tool for managing pain, but the opioid epidemic has made many people leery of prescribing these powerful painkillers. This may leave some people suffering unnecessarily. When are opioids appropriate, and how can they be used most effectively? When opioids aren’t the right tool, how can doctors help people in pain?

A Revolution in Managing Pain:

Dr. Sean Mackey, Chief of the Division of Pain Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, says we need a revolution to change how we think about pain. Learn about his six-point approach for managing pain.

This Week’s Guest:

Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, is the Redlich Professor and Chief of the Division of Pain Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. He is Director of the Stanford Systems Neuroscience and Pain Lab and has additional appointments in the Departments of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine, Neurosciences and Neurology, by courtesy. Find him on Twitter: @StanfordPain and @DrSeanMackey.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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