UVA Clinic Treats Pain With More Than Pills

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

May 12, 2005

"I understand the difference between being addicted and being dependent and I'm dependent on it to relieve my pain. I could stop taking it tomorrow. I'd hurt a heck of a lot by I could stop," said Cynthia Hildt, a pain patient.

But that is a fine line almost anyone could cross. The latest study said one in six Americans suffer from pain, but for many of them, the painkillers their doctors prescribe can become addictive.

"We want to discourage the patients from becoming reliant just on the medication," said Dr. John Rowlingson, an Anesthesiologist in the pain clinic at the UVA Medical Center. He said doctors there don't push the pills.

"Based on the use of medications as but one component as otherwise comprehensive pain management program. That being the case, the reliance on just on medication is not emphasized, as a matter of fact it's de-emphasized," said Dr. Rowlingson.

There are other ways to treat pain besides painkillers. Medications, injections, and other treatments like hypnosis and relaxation exercises help treat the source of the pain.

"The main goal that we see is helping the patient feel more in control of the pain. When the pain tells you what you can do, what you can't, how long you can do it for, if you can't plan for things, then the pain has the control," said Dania Chastain, a Psychologist at the pain clinic.

Experts said these techniques may not get rid of the pain for life, but it will give patient the ability to take their life back.

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