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Pain - Everyone's Nemesis


July 2015

Pinpointing Pain Treatments
Here is a quick reference guide to pain treatments. When seeking treatment options, consult with a pharmacist or physician for one’s specific pain issue.

Pain, the occasional visitor or the unwanted guest who refuses to leave, cripples life. The good news is that Wisconsin’s health care professionals are intent on stopping both.

Three pain specialists define pain and its effects in medical and everyday terms. Dr. Dermott More-O’Ferrall, chief medical officer of Advanced Pain Management in Greenfield; Dr. Nathan Rudin, medical director of the UW-Madison Health Pain Treatment and Research Center; and Dr. Yechiel Kleen, a ProHealth Care pyschiatrist in Waukesha, emphasize containing acute, episodic pain before it becomes a debilitating, chronic condition. "There are different types of pain, including a stabbing, burning sensation and acute neuropathic that affects the central nervous system," More-O’Ferrall says.

While Rudin says the International Association for the Study for Pain identifies pain in long form, he provides a simpler definition: "It is an unpleasant sensation, and it is physical and emotional, which is just as important and can be expressed in terms of tissue damage."

Kleen defines pain in terms of its effects. "It’s a subjective experience impacting the body and mind," he says. "I always ask my patients, ‘So what is this doing to your life?’"

Pain treatment, physicians say, has changed dramatically over the past several decades.

"In the late 1980s, opiates — narcotics — were beginning to be used for chronic pain," Rudin says. "In the 1990s, everyone was using them, and they were overprescribed. Now, the pendulum is swinging back (to not prescribing narcotics)."

Treatments have evolved in approach, and more is on the horizon. Rudin points to medicine looking at the healing factors of blood platelets, and More-O’Farrell says Advanced Pain Management is part of a national study examining if stem cell therapy is an effective pain treatment.

In any case, the future of health care specialists helping pain sufferers may depend on what modalities are recognized by payors.

"Our ability to use a multidisciplinary approach is essential," Kleen says. "For us to use the tools that are available, insurance companies will need to support all of this."


This story ran in the July 2015 issue of: