Pain is a difficult topic. To begin with, the experience of pain is completely subjective. There are no independent objective measures that doctors can use to assess a patient’s pain. They have to take her word for it. Second, pain has a very significant emotional component that must be addressed along with any physical causes. In addition, pain affects more than a single individual. Each patient’s pain affects his entire family and network of significant social contacts. That means managing pain has wide ramifications.
Sometimes, acute pain that has a discrete, observable cause lingers even after the cause is treated. How does chronic pain develop? When pain becomes a complex regional pain syndrome, it can be extremely difficult to treat. However, our guest, Dr. Sean Mackey, has a six-pronged strategy for managing pain.
Physicians often use opioids as a primary tool for managing pain, but the opioid epidemic has made many people leery of prescribing these powerful painkillers. When are they appropriate, and how can they be used most effectively? When opioids aren’t the right tool, how can doctors help people in pain?
Dr. Sean Mackey, Chief of the Division of Pain Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, says we need a revolution to change how we think about pain. Learn about his six-point approach for managing pain.
Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, is the Redlich Professor and Chief of the Division of Pain Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. He is Director of the Stanford Systems Neuroscience and Pain Lab and has additional appointments in the Departments of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine, Neurosciences and Neurology, by courtesy.