New report finds those with chronic pain better treated through multidisciplinary clinics

A new report from Health Canada's Pain Task Force touts multidisciplinary pain clinics as being effective to help patients with chronic pain. That's welcome news to those who operate the Integrated Chronic Pain program at Health Sciences North in Sudbury.

Integrated chronic pain clinic at Sudbury hospital has been helping patients since it opened in Oct. 2018

A report from the Canadian Pain Task Force states that multidisciplinary pain clinics are effective in helping patients with chronic pain. The hospital in Sudbury opened one last fall.

A new report from the Canadian Pain Task Force says the country needs to rethink how it treats people living with chronic pain.

Health Canada says chronic pain affects one in five Canadians.

In March, a task force was assembled to advise Health Canada on how to best prevent and manage chronic pain.

Their first report identifies gaps in chronic pain care such as access to services, but it also refers to multi-disciplinary pain clinics as the 'gold standard'. 

One of those pain management clinics opened up last fall at Health Sciences North, the hospital in Sudbury.

According to registered nurse and clinical lead, Tiku Natti, the clinic follows the biopsychosocial approach, which deals with the biological aspects of a patient's pain and how it affects them psychologically and socially.

"We really want to incorporate all aspects of their life, not just one particular aspect, and we find that using all of these approaches does help. It adds another layer of help to manage their life," Natti said. 

The wait to get an appointment at the clinic can be a lengthy one.

"We could be looking at up to 18 months, but again that's not a hard and fast number; that's the number that I have been seeing at this point," Natti said.

It's because when the new Integrated Chronic Pain Program opened last October, it was inundated with referrals.

However Natti says they try to triage the patient referral, and then based on their needs they can fit them into appropriate programs or peer-led groups.

The wait could be a bit longer if a patient's needs have changed over time.

The clinic does not prescribe medication, that would come from a patient's primary care provider.

"That's the beauty of the integrated chronic pain program, in using the biopsychosocial model we are approaching all aspects of the patient's needs."

Natti says program options include teaching, goal setting, planning, education, physiotherapy, and even working with patient's families or care-givers.

"We find that using all of these approaches does help," she said.

Natti says since the clinic opened last fall they've had time to see the results.

"I've seen the evolution of the program and I've seen what it's doing for people and I've had a lot of positive feedback from patients, from families, from the community."

With files from Sandy Siren


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