The World of Chronic Pain
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The World of
Chronic Pain

More than 125 million Amercians are suffering.

Diseases &
Conditions

These conditions can cause a world of pain.

Medications
& Treatment

Be sure you know the cautions and side effects.

Help &
Support

Finding help is not always simple for those in pain.

Safety &
Prevention

These tips can help prevent a lifetime of pain.

News &
Issues

Up-to-date news on pain-related issues.

Warnings About Doctors

The shortage of physicians specializing in pain treatment means the wait to see one can be months. When the much-awaited date arrives, the patient is often disappointed by lead-in words such as "I don't use narcotics." Or there is a personality clash. Or the physician has a strange program all his own. Many patients stick in there anyway, rather than go through the entire waiting process to see another doctor.

One famous doctor lectures around the country and is fabulously wealthy, yet was denied privileges at every reputable hospital in the large city where he tried to practice. His unorthodox experiments led to too many patients worse than when they started with him and deaths the hospitals' insurance couldn't continue to cover.

At the time he was reported to us, he was down to using a community hospital where the only other patients were criminals from the local jails. Needless to say it was disconcerting for regular patients to be surrounded by convicted convicts and their accompanying guards whom they could only pray were sufficiently armed and vigilant.

His program was to "hook" patients by increasing oxycontin as high as necessary until the patients were virtual zombies. He scheduled each new patient for a "seminar" charging their insurance companies $400 for the privilege of hearing him outline his plan. Most patients were so desperate for relief they didn't really pay attention and so uncomfortable sitting in hard chairs in a hot little room they were drowsing off as he outlined his "grand plan."

The "plan" was to relieve the patients pain (which is all they heard) by increasing oxycontin (and other medications as needed) until their pain was under control (and they, by virtue of their forced addition were under his control). At that time he would consider either the spinal cord stimulator or the "morphine pump" as he called it, for them.

What he didn't tell them until they were thoroughly dependent on high doses of oxycontin was that if they refused to accept the spinal cord stimulator or the morphine pump, or their insurance wouldn't pay for them, the patients would be fired and thrown out on the street, completely addicted to oxycontin, all medications cut off.

This patient, desperate for relief, went into the program, prepared to face the "down the line" part when he came to it. He didn't know that the doctor would almost immediately schedule a hideously painful "scar tissue removal" procedure on his back where he'd had previous surgery. It was the surgery or cut off the medications as a "difficult patient."

Unsedated, the patient screamed through the surgery which of course did no good since the scar tissue which had never troubled him would just grow back.

The doctor's entire plan was to milk insurance companies for as much money as possible.

Patients were so desperate for relief, they heard only the first part. The rest was down the line. they could choose He scheduled four patients every 15 minutes, with a resultant time spent in the waiting room on hard metal chairs of 6 hours and up. He spent none of his wealth on patient comfort.

His mistake was that in those long, painful hours in the waiting room, patients talked. They talked. They watched the ones who had progressed to the pain pumps sob as the nurses refused to refill them "because it wasn't time yet." "That's not what they told me when they put the thing in. They said they would base the refills on NEED. They never mentioned some stupid schedule!"

People with pumps and spinal cord stimulators would come barging in with high fevers because the leads were out of place, infected, and the doctor would refuse to see them until their regularly scheduled appointments. They would go to other hospitals where other physicians would refuse to touch them because they had not installed the pumps or stimulators.

Gradually the smart patients got away, found other doctors before they reached that genuine quack's deadline for surgery. This man actually reached the point of the trial for the pump. In the Intensive Care Unit, after being told they had 27 medications they could try, only two were tried. The night nurse came to him after fighting with the doctor who ordered more medication when the patient was practically dead from the high dose he was already on. The nurse said, "No patient is dying on my shift." This woke the patient up. He said he wanted the trial stopped and indeed he was fired by the practice! Fortunately his former pain doctor took him back and got him straightened out again. Only then did he realize how doped up he had been, to the point he truly could have died.

The night nurse said it could cost him his job, but he told the patient he had seen people die under this doctor's care, from infections caused by improper installation of the pump, infections ignored because the doctor was too busy with two dozen other patients.

To this day, the man thanks God for that nurse, his courage in saving his life, and his honesty in telling his what really went on under this doctor's "care."

Since then the community hospital has closed down due to not meeting health department standards and everyone hopes the doctor has been put out of business.

Unfortunately, this type of "pain specialist" is all too common.

When a patient knows the only thing that helps them are narcotics or is smart enough to realize a set-up or even if there's just a personality conflict, it's off to continue the search for another doctor, involving another long wait as the process is repeated again and again and again.

Why should the masses of people in genuine pain have to pay for the few who abuse the system? Oxycontin has recently become the "drug of scorn" because some bored teenagers decided to use it like heroin, crushing it, chewing it, melting it down and injecting it, something its manufacturers could not have foreseen. Suddenly any physician prescribing it and any patient using it is suspicious. Is this fair? No! It is happening? Yes! Pain patients and physicians are easy marks. Too easy.