Medical Management of
Chronic Pain & Headaches
Typical Medical Care
Everyone is aware that the cost of medical care in the United States is ballooning out of control. What many people don't realize is that physician costs are actually making up a smaller proportion of these costs than in past years. The reason for this is complicated but it includes the fact that larger percentages of the cost are due to new technologies. Examples of new techologies are PET scanners, robot surgeries and Gamma Knife technologies, most of which are truly wonderful advancements but also very expensive.
At the same time fewer Medical School graduates are going into primary care specialties of Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. The new doctors who do go into these specialties are entering practice with staggering amounts of debt and so there is great pressure on primary care physicians to see larger numbers of patients. Doctors spend more and more time going over increasing numbers of laboratory reports, imaging reports and specialist reports, again adding to their work loads.
As a result, patients often feel they are getting short changed when it comes to the doctor's time and energy. When patients present with challenging problems like chronic pain, fibromyalgia or worsening headaches the easiest treatment is to write a prescription and hope that it takes care of the problem. Many times prescription medications are successful with some of these problems but they don't really get to the heart of what is wrong. Chronic pain is a problem that can be overwhelming and the National Institute of Health, The American Pain Society and many of the best hospitals in the country recommend multidisciplinary pain treatment programs as the best way to treat it. Fortunately, here in West Michigan we have one of the few programs of this type in the Midwest.
Management at The Pain Center
Many physicians have never had any exposure to this type of treatment and so have limited knowledge about what we really do and how it helps patients get their lives back. The techniques and education that you receive at The Pain Center at Mary Free Bed is also something that you can't get in a brief office visit. Primary Care Physicians vary in their ability to provide encouragement in self-management, and often feel it is their job to either fix the problem or refer them to someone who can. Keep this in mind when you are discussing your pain with your physician. Let them know you don't expect them to fix it and if you feel you have the skills to manage your pain let them know that you are just giving an update on things. Also, your team at The Pain Center is happy to see you back for a refresher if need be. We don't usually need to repeat the whole program but can focus on specific needs if you have a flare up that you are having difficulty managing.
Our desire is to remain a resource for our patients so that we can help you stay in control of your pain and more importantly, stay in control of your life.
More than the programs ...
At The Pain Center, all of our doctor's and therapists see patients outside of the programs. If you have a new injury, significant stressor, severe pain flare-up or need to adjust your home exercise program - come back to the team that you trust. We're happy to help.
Have a question about a flare up?
You are still a part of The Pain Center family. If you ever have a question, please give us a call at 616.233.3480 and we'd be happy to answer it.