Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Algiatrist

Pain management is about much more than narcotics. It might entail psychological counseling with visualization, hypnosis, non narcotics, or other alternatives.

   Some posts ago, I explained how my son who is in  this twenties wound up with a chronic pain issue (lightning strike) and how specialist upon specialist focused on different aspects of his issue until we went to a hospital based group of anesthesiologists who specialize in pain management.  Physicians who work in this area, and are both anesthesiologists and devote their practice to pain management are known as Algiatrists.   RN or not, this was a new word for me.
               Algiatrists in the broadest sense of the word are physicians who practice the management of pain in their patients.  They are generally members of the American Academy of Pain Management.  There is a great deal of information available to physicians in this field, and AAPM does a great deal in order to ensure that this information is brought to physicians increasing the breadth and depth of effectiveness in this area. AAPM might sponsor an online course on the safest  and most effective practices in terms of safe opioid prescribing.  An algiatrist who is also an anesthesiologist is a board certified physician who has the ability to consider all of the known modalities for pain control.  When the brain becomes "stuck" or overly sensitive to pain long beyond the time in which pain would have been constructive to the afflicted human, the algiatrist can prescribe drugs which which are not necessarily narcotics but will help to reset the perception of the brain, that there is pain.  The objective is almost always to decrease or limit the amount of narcotics required by treating the pain in other ways.  Whenever chronic pain is a problem, do not hesitate to find out if there is a medical school based pain management center staffed by an algiatrist or two, in your area.  It is well worth one or two trips to help debug the cause and work toward the best and safest possible management of the issue.
              Sometimes, other physicians are in the position of managing chronic pain. These are some of the specialists who may need to perform this function.:

  • anesthesiology
  • neurosurgery
  • family medicine
  • orthopedics
  • neurology
  • psychiatry
  • emergency medicine
  • more...
  • physical medicine and rehabilitation
  • internal medicine
  • oncology

 Most of the time, pain management practitioners are physicians, but sometimes, other professionals are entrusted with finding the best strategies of pain management for patients.  They may include:

Pain practice clinicians including:

  • nurse practitioners
  • physician assistants
  • psychologists
  • physical therapists
  • registered nurses
  • occupational therapists
  • chiropractors
           Why am I encouraging you to consider strategies for chronic pain management on a preparedness forum ?    Because part of the human experience is to experience occasional injuries, to age, and to overdo. Autoimmune illness can also contribute to chronic pain issues, as can acquired illnesses, such as Lyme Disease.

                So, in conclusion, I would like anyone who has a chronic pain issue to explore with the right physician what can be done in order to bring them to their highest level of function.   We never know when we might have to walk a couple of miles, lift more than we might normally, evacuate our homes, or carry our children somewhere.  An investment in good health is an investment indeed.

Our prior posts on the subject of Pain Management:

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