Last week, my guest co-host, Dr. Kevin Cuccaro, and I had an interesting discussion about me and my pain. If you didn’t hear it, I was taken to the emergency room by ambulance because I could not get out of bed due to pain. Today’s episode will talk about how well healthcare systems treat pain.
How Our Healthcare System Is Treating It
Dr. Kevin Cuccaro said that our healthcare system is good for acute episodes. If you are in an accident, having an acute heart attack, or go cut open, our healthcare is good on treating that. The whole system is designed to round it. But what we are not good at is anything that has been around for a while, the chronic conditions. We’re not good at doing preventive care so that you won’t have a heart attack in the first place. If you have pain for a long period, we’re pretty atrocious in taking care of that.
Is It Always the Doctor’s Responsibility to Fix Us?
For a long time, people have been taught that if there’s anything wrong with you, go see your doctor and then they’re going to do something to make it go away. And that comes from health systems, comes from public warnings, and the pharmaceutical industry.
There are only 2 countries in the world that have direct to consumer advertising and that’s the United States and New Zealand.
What do those ads tell you? They “diseasify” symptoms, meaning we as humans are not meant to be in one state all the time. We have good days, bad days, sad days, and so on. That is normal for us, having a normal emotional spectrum. But the pharmaceutical industry likes to start taking these things to another level rather than normal behavior, and then they will say you need a drug for it.
Hypnosis in Pain
Hypnosis involves learning how to use your mind to manage anxiety, unpleasant physical symptoms, and certain habits or behaviors. It is another tool that can be used to help patients cope with pain.
Hypnosis as Dr. Kevin Cuccaro would say can be extremely powerful. What it does is it allows your body to relax and learn things quickly. Also, to be open to suggestions and to focus your attention on things specific to you. There’s a lot of potential for hypnotherapy.
For this kind of therapy, you need to know what you’re doing with them because you need to understand what it is you’re treating.
If you understand pain, we know it is about protection as we talk about in the first episode, not punishment and it has information coming up from the body and the brain. There are these 2 other divisions that are as important as well, the attention, the cognitive aspect, the thoughts, the beliefs behind it, and then emotions, which is the meaning, the mood, and the memory associated with it. Now we can start honing on these contributors that are involved in how this pain comes together in a more effective manner.
Pain is the body's warning system when you are sick or injured. It leads people to take action, a good thing, and has been important in humans' ability to evolve and survive.
When it comes to pain, the more that you feel that there are things that you can do to help yourself when it comes to pain, the less pain that you tend to experience. If you understand that pain is a protector, and as we increase threat, we increase pain. The more control or sense that you perceive, the less threat that you tend to see.
About Our Co-Host
Dr. Kevin Cuccaro is a fellowship trained specialist and expert on the science of pain, trained in anesthesiology at The University of Chicago. After that, he completed his fellowship in Pain Medicine at the University of Michigan. Later road he served as associate program director of the Naval Medical Center San Diego’s Pain Medicine Fellowship program. If you’ve never been to San Diego you should go, it’s a beautiful place. He focuses on creating solutions for pain- and pain-related topics important to healthcare systems, clinicians and the public.
Mentioned in This Episode:
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