Pain Management Program Provides Options For Patients in Chronic Pain
Almost one in five Americans lives with chronic pain, often so great that it affects their daily life. At the same time, the ongoing opioid crisis fuels discussions of the role that pain medications play in the epidemic and new examinations of alternative ways to treat pain.
Wheeler is at the forefront, with specially trained staff who integrate behavioral health therapies and alternative approaches into plans of care at the Family Health & Wellness Center at 43 Woodland Street, Hartford. Call our Navigation Center at 860-793-3500 to schedule an appointment.
“There are effective alternatives to pain medication,” says Mira McDermott, LCSW, a clinical supervisor in Wheeler’s pain management program. “Behavioral health strategies help patients feel a greater sense of control over their pain. Patients sometimes don’t even know they have options besides just taking a prescription.”
"Patients sometimes don’t even know they have options besides just taking a prescription."
From meditation and mindfulness, acupuncture, cognitive behavioral and dialectical behavior therapy, methods using gate control theory, yoga, chiropractic care, Zumba, and more, Wheeler care teams bring many different approaches into play—in one location—to help patients “work with their pain, rather than be consumed by it,” as McDermott describes it.
Common conditions the team treats include fibromyalgia, arthritis, and back, neck, and joint pain. Because of Wheeler’s extensive history providing behavioral health services, the team naturally connects symptoms and conditions into an integrated approach and addresses physical and behavioral health needs.
“One example is that there is often a connection between chronic pain and trauma,” explains Jen Lanza, LCSW, another of Wheeler’s clinical supervisors. “We also very often see connections like depression present in patients with fibromyalgia, which affects treatment of both.”
Likewise, plans of care work with patients to put their whole-person needs at the center.
“Empowering the patient is so important,” says Liz Kaplan, LCSW, a senior integrated healthcare clinician. “We work from the strengths that everyone has. Patients often find that they can do a lot more than they think they can.”
“We work from the strengths that everyone has. Patients often find that they can do a lot more than they think they can.”
The end goal is clear: reduced dependence on prescription medications, which can in turn help reduce the number of Connecticut residents affected by overdose and addiction. “Meeting the needs of our community,” as Dr. Harrison, Wheeler’s behavioral health consultant, frames it.
Other results are more immediate. Patients report less pain, and more improvements in their lives, like getting out of the house, or spending more time at work and with friends and family.
“You feel a real sense of accomplishment when someone tells you that they actually like coming in for treatment,” Lanza says. “You’re expanding their opportunities in life.”