"So many things go into the chronic pain model, we have to think of the whole person," said Abraham Kabazie, director of the Institute for Pain Medicine at West Penn Hospital.
"We're continuing to educate ourselves about the pain spectrum."
Pain medicine is a growing field, he said, pointing out that both West Penn's pain medicine program and Pitt's department of anesthesiology now have pain medicine fellowships, multidisciplinary programs open to doctors who have completed their residencies and want to focus on treating pain.
said the FDA
recently approved a skin patch sold as Butrans that delivers buprenorphine, a partly synthetic opioid, over a period of seven days.
If other methods have failed to address a patient's chronic pain, Dr. Kabazie
will consider implanting a spinal cord stimulator.
Also known as pain pacemakers, these devices are implanted in the body, where they deliver a low-level electrical signal to the spinal cord, which blocks pain signals.
Patients can turn the device on and off or adjust the level of the signal.
Often used for back pain, Dr. Kabazie
cited a patient with chest wall scarring from surgery who found relief from the device.
"Spinal cord stimulators have been pigeonholed for certain types of pain, but I think they will work for multiple pain states," Dr. Kabazie
Regardless of the methods they use to treat chronic pain, Dr. Glick and Dr. Kabazie
agreed that patient commitment and involvement in their treatment led to better outcomes.
"Patients have to be motivated," Dr. Kabazie