Chronic pain can be one of the most complex medical issues to treat, particularly if the patient has been dealing with the problem for a long time. That was the case for one middle-aged Medcan client. A traumatic incident had caused fractures and a mild traumatic brain injury. Once the acute problems had healed, the man’s pain remained. An enthusiastic racquet sport player, he stopped getting exercise and gained weight. The constant pain triggered a depression. He took time off from work. His relationships with his family suffered. Yet the doctors and other health professionals he consulted could not eliminate his pain.
Then he came to Medcan, where professionals in our new multi-disciplinary program came together to help. The client’s pain diminished and he found the strength to return to the things that gave him joy and purpose: work, fitness, family, and friends.
Such stories—explain why I’m so excited to formally launch Medcan’s Pain Management and Recovery Program, a multi-disciplinary collaboration among the following health professionals:
Chronic pain is a serious problem for one in five people, amounting to six million Canadians. The problem is so poorly managed that the federal minister of health established a national task force on pain this year. The task force report called chronic pain “one the most common reasons for seeking health care,” and described the problem’s significant economic impact, amounting to $7.2 billion in directly related health care costs. Factor in lost productivity and sick days and a Globe and Mail op-ed places the cost at $60 billion per year. One study says those who suffer from chronic pain have twice the suicide risk as the population in general.
One contributing factor is how poorly the public system manages the problem. Chronic pain can trigger a whole spectrum of issues. Yet most healthcare professionals are too siloed to deal with the problem’s full scope. The programs that do employ an interdisciplinary approach have wait times between one and three years.
Medcan’s program is different. Overseeing all care and guiding the group to help manage the patient effectively is medical Dr. Michael Wansbrough, who holds an enhanced scope of practice in interventional chronic pain management and has an interest in holistic and regenerative strategies for improving function and reducing pain. The program includes an assessment consultation with a chiropractic doctor, a psychologist and a dietician. Exercise-based rehabilitation and self-care management strategies are major components. The entire team collaborates via regular communications and meetings to evaluate each patient’s progress. All information is shared with the patient through the journey to recovery.
One key differentiating factor of our program is the way it addresses the silo issue. Each client’s care journey is guided by a single, dedicated case manager: Marlo Goldstein, a registered kinesiologist with a background in functional movement and pain rehabilitation therapy who understands the way pain can affect one’s life. Goldstein’s supervision ensures that each client who enrolls in the program receives a personalized pain-management plan.
“The program is an opportunity to help patients manage their pain through coordinated care with all practitioners communicating with each other and being fully transparent with the patient,” Goldstein said. “It takes a team to guide clients through their journey—to provide someone to talk to, to answer their questions and keep them accountable. We also give them an education about their pain and how to manage it properly so our clients can once again become contributing members of society.”
“Chronic pain represents an enormous burden on society,” said Dr. Miners. “Marlo and I saw the need to help our patients see pain not as something to quiet down or silence, but to listen to… Pain is an alarm system, and it’s how you interpret that alarm that is important.”
“I have a strong belief in a holistic approach to managing chronic pain,” says Dr. Wansbrough. “It’s crazy the neglect that society has for this area. That’s the value of Medcan’s integrated program—because we have one patient coordinator managing all these different things that are necessary trying to get people back on their feet. Medcan is filling a gap by creating one of the very few integrative pain programs in Canada.”
The addition of Dr. Wansbrough provides the team with options if the pain is interfering with the ability to heal and recover. “Occasionally ultrasound guided injections are part of the plan,” says Dr. Wansbrough. “Maybe 50% of people dealing with chronic pain benefit from injections. They may have so much pain they can’t do the exercises or stretching that they need. If that’s the case, there’s a role for interventional management, whether that’s nerve blocks, joint injections, or myo-fascial injections.” Pain can take over your life and become all-consuming. True rehabilitation is possible. To address the full complexity of chronic pain, the right approach and the right people are required. At Medcan, we’re here to support you from the initial consult to celebrating your recovery.
Want to learn more? Please contact our pain management case manager at 416.350.5900 ext.2893 or PainManagement@Medcan.com.