Managing Pain

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), August 10, 2009 | Go to article overview

Managing Pain


Byline: Randi Bjornstad The Register-Guard

Most people experience some form of prolonged pain at some point in their lives - whether from a severe headache, sprained ankle, pulled muscle or disease - and they know firsthand the toll pain takes on sleep, work, exercise, eating, even thinking.

For many years, pain sufferers routinely went to traditional physicians for help. Sometimes they got relief - often in the form of a prescription - and sometimes they didn't.

As health care circles widened, people with chronic pain began seeking out alternative healers such as acupuncturists, massage therapists, naturopaths and chiropractors, where they sometimes got relief and sometimes didn't.

But in recent years, many of these practitioners and more - pharmacists, social workers, psychologists, nurses and therapists - have joined together as "pain societies" to share their knowledge and get people with pain to the form of treatment that will serve them best, even if it's not one they know.

Eugene chiropractor Gregory Koors is on the board of directors of the Pain Society of Oregon, which he says originated in Eugene about a decade ago.

"A few chronic pain docs and psychologists realized they didn't know everything there was to know about pain, so they decided to get together once a month and listen to everyone talk about what each other does about it," Koors said. "It started out as the Pain Society of Lane County, and it kept expanding. Now, it's the Pain Society of Oregon."

About the same time the pain management movement began in Oregon, it also began to grow at the national level. Near the end of his second term, President Bill Clinton signed a law declaring the 10-year period that began Jan. 1, 2001, as the Decade of Pain Control and Research.

A group called the American Pain Society, primarily medical specialists, had been meeting since 1977. But the attention of Congress shed new light on the need for better collaboration among traditional and alternative medical professionals to control pain.

"It was pretty standard that medical specialists were the first ones to look at the problem, but the important thing about the groups we have now is that there are many more practitioners that people in pain can be referred to. And pain patients are the big winners," Koors said.

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