Living With Chronic Pain

Living with Chronic Pain: How I can help you

Chronic pain is a living, breathing, entity that invades all aspects of a person’s life. I know, because I live with it every day. I’ve been in private practice for thirty years, had over a dozen spinal surgeries, and was a single mom to my beautiful daughter. I know how hard it is to cope with everyday activities while dealing with chronic pain. As a medical doctor, I use my personal experiences and professional expertise to help patients live with it as well.

I’ve heard all the ads on TV promising a pain-free life, magic cures, or the belief that my pain is only emotional, in essence, calling me crazy. I’d like to hit those people and then ask if their pain is real! If you hurt, it’s real, period! It needs to be honored, appropriately evaluated and treated, not minimized and used for financial gain. If there was a safe, quick fix, believe me, I’d be taking it. But, there is not; chronic diseases require time, work, patience, and dealing with our emotional, physical, and interpersonal lives. Something in short supply in this instant gratification society we live in. There is no medical or pharmaceutical conspiracy keeping us from a magic cure. And why would they? It’d be worth a fortune. Viagra is a great example. If a cure for hair loss or instant weight reduction really existed, we wouldn’t be learning about it from some obscure internet site.

As someone who deals with pain daily, I’ve learned ways to live with it so I can enjoy all life has to offer. As a medical doctor, I’ve had the privilege to share with patients my experiences and expertise so they can live better, fuller lives, too. My goal is to help you improve your daily reality by presenting possible causes, exploring the emotional impact, and showing safe, effective exercise programs. I’ll guide you in how to find accessible treatment options, interact with your healthcare providers, and present specific information to help you live with your pain and have a quality of life you never thought possible. We can do this together.

Chronic pain, defined as anything lasting on a continuous basis for over three months, can cause debilitating fatigue, sleep deprivation, and damage interpersonal relationships. It can exacerbate or cause other physical conditions such as hypertension, abdominal complaints, obesity from lack of exercise. . .Unlike acute pain, which stimulates the nervous system, alerting us to possible injury, chronic pain is a sustained, stimuli that can last months, years, or indefinitely. It can be aggravated by other underlying processes, or occur when there’s no inciting event.

Regardless of the reason, people with chronic pain suffer.  For too long, the medical community has been unable, or unwilling, to deal with its impact. It takes a tremendous amount of time to help patients with their physical and emotional concerns. As physicians, we just don’t have the resources necessary to deal with this devastating problem.

All too often, pain management clinics spring up to offer magic fixes or addictive drugs that only temporarily impact the pain and then require higher doses, or frequent visits to maintain. They were never meant to be the solution, only a small piece of the puzzle. Now we are seeing the horrifying reality that answer has caused.

This is not the answer. Chronic pain is a palpable, difficult to define, but absolutely real condition that needs to be dealt with differently if we are to succeed in living with it.

It’s an overwhelming, immensely challenging problem facing the medical community and society as a whole. According to the Institute of Addiction Medicine, it’s estimated that over 116 million people suffer from chronic pain, but it ultimately affects everyone. If you aren’t the one in pain, you know, work with, or love someone who is. The United States is less than 5% of the world population and yet we use over 80% of all opioids produced and 99% of all hydrocodone, or Vicodin, prescriptions written. It affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, combined. It is the number one reason for disability, medical visits, and time lost from work- costing over 650 billion dollars a year.

I remember a story about a man who was walking down the street when he fell into a deep, black hole. He desperately looked around, but couldn’t find a way out, so he screamed for help. A woman leaned over the edge and yelled that she was going to get a rope. He waited, but when she didn’t return, he screamed again. A man passing by offered to get a ladder so he could climb out. He waited and waited. Suddenly, a different man jumped into the hole next to him.

Startled, he asked, “Why did you do that, now we’re both stuck!?”

The man looked at him and replied, “It’s ok, I’ve been down here before, I know the way out.”

Chronic pain impacts everything in its path. I feel it. I understand it. I live with it. Using my knowledge, unique understanding, professional and personal perspectives, I’m convinced that you too, will benefit from my hard-learned lessons. I’ve been in that hole.

Let me show you a way out.

– Dr. Courtney

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