New Hope for Chronic Pain?

New Hope for Chronic Pain?

The National Institutes of Health estimate that 25.3 million adults are in chronic pain, which they define as pain nearly every day for at least three months. Moreover, the National Health Interview Survey, conducted in 2015, found that 1 in 10 Americans suffer from some form of pain every day, but even more concerning, 17.6 percent of Americans suffer from “severe levels” of chronic pain.

However, according to research presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2018 annual meeting, there is new hope for those who suffer from chronic pain.

Using dorsal root ganglion stimulation (DRG) – an innovative treatment that short circuits pain – Robert J. McCarthy, a professor of anesthesiology at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago and his team implanted devices in 67 people with chronic back pain. Patients were then followed for 3 to 18 months. Among their results:

  • Before implantation of the DRG device, most participants described their pain as 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the worst pain imaginable). After follow-up, the median (most common) pain score fell to 5, a decrease of 33 percent, which the authors note is a clinically significant improvement.
  • Patients reported a 27 percent decrease (median) in disability, or patient-reported limitations to daily living, due to pain.
  • 94 percent of patients reported the treatment was beneficial (McCarthy et al., 2018).

“People in our study who had DRG stimulation reported significant improvement in pain even after a year, which is notable. They had tried numerous therapies, from drugs to spinal cord stimulation to surgery, but got little to no lasting pain relief. For most, DRG stimulation really improved their quality of life” (McCarthy, 2018).

Why DRG works, notes McCarthy, is due to the way chronic pain affects pain signals. In cases of chronic pain, nerves continue to send signals to the brain after the original source of the pain is gone. DRG stimulation disrupts these pain signals by specifically targeting the nerves responsible for the pain.

Essentially, DRG serves as the pain and sensation gateway between nerves in different parts of the body and the spinal cord and brain, and in doing so, interrupts the pain signal between the painful area and the brain.

Not just does DRG target the specific pain source, unlike spinal cord stimulation, another treatment for chronic pain, lower levels of current are required to achieve benefits.

As the rising rate of opioid use can perhaps be explained in part by the enormous amount of people who suffer with chronic pain, McCarthy notes, “There is a real need for non-drug therapy relief for people with chronic pain” (McCarthy, 2018).

Let’s hope that DRG is that relief.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Course:

Living a Better Life with Chronic Pain: Eliminating Self-Defeating BehaviorsLiving a Better Life with Chronic Pain is a 5-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that “walks” readers through the process of replacing their self-defeating chronic pain issues with healthy, positive, and productive life-style behaviors.

Certainly no one would choose a pain-filled body over a healthy, pain-free body. Yet every day, people unwittingly choose actions and attitudes that contribute to pain or lead to other less-than-desirable consequences on their health, relationships or ability to function. These actions and attitudes are what are called self-defeating behaviors (SDBs) and they keep us from living life to the fullest—if we let them. This course progresses from an analysis of the emotional aspects of living with chronic pain to specific strategies for dealing more productively with it. Through 16 guided exercises, readers will learn how to identify their self-defeating behaviors (SDBs), analyze and understand them, and then replace them with life-giving actions that lead to permanent behavioral change. Course #50-12 | 2014 | 49 pages | 35 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

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Acupuncture – An Introduction

New 1-Hour Online CE Course

Acupuncture – An Introduction

CE Credit: 1 Hours (0.1 CEUs)
Target Audience: Psychologists, Counselors, Social Workers, MFTs, OTs, RDs
Learning Level: Introductory

Course Abstract:

This course is divided into two parts. Part I – “Introduction to Acupuncture” – provides an overview of acupuncture

Acupuncture – An Introduction

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as presented by a fact sheet from NCCAM and includes a number of video clips illustrating its use. Acupuncture is among the oldest healing practices in the world. As part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture aims to restore and maintain health through the stimulation of specific points on the body. In the United States, where practitioners incorporate healing traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries, acupuncture is considered part of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

Part II – “Acupuncture for Pain” – is also a fact sheet from NCCAM. Physical pain is a common occurrence for many Americans; in fact, a national survey found that more than one-quarter of U.S. adults had recently experienced some sort of pain lasting more than a day. In addition to conventional treatments, such as over-the-counter and prescription medications, people may try acupuncture in an effort to relieve pain. This fact sheet provides basic information about pain and acupuncture, summarizes scientific research on acupuncture for specific kinds of pain, and suggests sources for additional information. It also includes a video clip.

Course #10-47 | 2011 | 16 pages | 10 posttest questions

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe the fundamental procedure that is involved in acupuncture
  2. Identify the concepts of “balanced” and “unbalanced” states in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)
  3. List cautions to observe when seeking a qualified acupuncture practitioner
  4. Identify conditions for which there is scientific evidence of the efficacy of acupuncture
  5. List complications that can occur as a consequence of improper delivery of acupuncture treatments

About the Author(s):

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is the Federal Government’s lead agency for scientific research on the diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine.

Accreditation Statement:

Professional Development Resources is recognized as a provider of continuing education by the following:
AOTA: American Occupational Therapy Association (#3159)
APA: American Psychological Association
ASWB: Association of Social Work Boards (#1046)
CDR: Commission on Dietetic Registration (#PR001)
NBCC: National Board for Certified Counselors (#5590)
NAADAC: National Association of Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselors (#00279)
California: Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625)
Florida: Boards of SW, MFT & MHC (#BAP346); Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635); Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635); Occupational Therapy Practice (#34). PDResources is CE Broker compliant.
Illinois: DPR for Social Work (#159-00531)
Ohio: Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501)
South Carolina: Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193)
Texas: Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) & State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678)

Assessing Substance Abuse in Patients with Chronic Pain

“Pain is perfect misery, the worse of all evils; and excessive, overturns all patients.” John Milton, Paradise Lost

Chronic pain refers to pain that lasts longer than would be expected for a particular injury, disease, or syndrome. In some cases, the cause of chronic pain cannot be satisfactorily treated or removed. Estimates by the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) project that one-third of Americans suffer from some type of chronic pain condition. Furthermore, chronic pain is credited with being the primary cause of disability in this country.

Despite the prevalence of chronic pain as a public health issue, many mental health professionals have limited knowledge about the assessment and management of pain. Some clients, as well as clinicians, believe that use of narcotic pain medications to treat certain pain syndromes leads to addiction. This belief contradicts findings suggesting the actual risk of iatragenic addiction to opiate medication for pain patients is more likely to be less than one percent. However, fear of addiction may cause some individuals to endure inadequately treated pain and accept a significant loss of quality of life. Bostrom reported survey findings that ninety-two percent of respondents believe pain is a fact of life; that eighty-two percent believe it is too easy to become reliant on pain medication; that seventy- two percent believe that medication will not be effective with consistent use, and that forty-six percent avoid medication until pain becomes unbearable. Accordingly, it is important for mental health practitioners to assess pain in their clients, understand actual risk factors for misuse of common drug therapies for pain, and identify appropriate interventions for pain management as a priority.

Assessing Substance Abuse in Patients with Chronic Pain

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This 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course, Assessing Substance Abuse in Patients with Chronic Pain, will demystify the diagnosis and treatment of chronic pain, the role and limitations of pain medications, and how to identify when pain relieving drugs may be harmful to clients. Participants will understand how to conduct a complete evaluation of clients with a pain disorder, chronic pain syndrome and co-morbid psychiatric diagnoses. Although the majority of chronic pain patients do not abuse pain medications, mental health practitioners need skills to assess when active substance abuse is present and develop appropriate treatment objectives. This course will also give special attention to specific clinical challenges for mental health professionals who treat clients with chronic pain, including suicide assessment and treatment non-adherence.

“For all the happiness mankind can gain, is not in pleasure, but in rest from pain.” John Dryden (1631-1700)

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