October 19, 2017 – Dissecting Pain


Anchor lead: Helping people in chronic pain requires a multipronged approach, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Chronic pain is complicated to manage, and now that opioids are being tightly controlled, new approaches are needed. Michael Clark, a pain expert who spoke at a recent Johns Hopkins symposium on pain, says an understanding of why someone is in pain to begin with is critical.

Clark: How do you distinguish the different causes of pain, the different comorbidities of pain, such as major depression, or substance abuse, or even other medical causes that would benefit from more specific treatments. You hear people talking about precision medicine. It comes from knowing your patient, and what it is that they have wrong with them. Then you can decide well this person might actually benefit from opioids but this person might actually benefit from any number of other interventions that would actually do a much better job than opioids. :33

Clark says strategies like cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture, and stress reduction as well as treating the other problems appropriately should render most cases of chronic pain manageable. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.