Friday, December 11, 2009 | Categories: Dr. Brian's Blog |
Physician and humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer once described pain as "a more terrible lord of mankind than death himself."
Current estimates suggest that one in five Canadians suffers from chronic pain severe enough to require treatment. Some studies have estimated that chronic pain causes more disability than cancer and heart disease combined. Despite this, many Canadians suffer in silence, as their pain is both under-appreciated and under-treated.
There are many reasons why this sad state of affairs prevails here in Canada and in many developed nations. Health professionals receive very little education on managing pain effectively and safely. And there aren't nearly enough experts in pain management or specialized pain clinics to meet the needs of Canadians.
Pam Squire is one such physician. The Vancouver-based family doctor has made it her life's work to learn as much as possible about treating pain and help as many patients as time permits.
For Dr. Squire, managing pain with narcotic painkillers means managing the risk of addiction. Before prescribing narcotics, she says she always asks up front if the patient has ever been addicted to alcohol and other drugs. Some patients are offended by Dr. Squire's direct and candid approach.
This week's edition of WCBA examines the problem of unrelieved pain and the impact on patients. You can catch the show on Saturday, December 12 at 10 am (1030 NT) and again on Monday December 14 at 1130 am (3:30 pm NT) on CBC Radio One.
Meantime, here's a bit of what Dr. Squire says to her patients: