Overflow crowd at Penticton chronic pain symposium

Dr. Michelle Teo, a Penticton rheumatologist, addresses a chronic pain symposium before a packed house at the Shatford Centre on June 8, 2016.
Image Credit: Contributed

PENTICTON - Management of chronic pain should be a priority health issue in our community, say those involved in a special chronic pain symposium in Penticton.

An overflow crowd of more than 250 people packed the Shatford Centre on Wednesday, June 8 for a chronic pain symposium featuring a panel of five Okanagan pain experts involved in a recent study into fibromyalgia.

The pilot study team, headed by Penticton rheumatologist Dr. Michelle Teo, yielded positive results using a multi-disciplinary approach to treating people with fibromyalgia.

Teo and Nelly Oelke, an assistant professor at UBC-Okanagan discussed the study results.

Dr. Dave Paisley, a Penticton family physician, outlined his additional training in chronic pain management and the approaches he uses to help his patients increase their functionality while reducing their need for pain medications.

Neil Pearson, physiotherapist and UBC clinical assistant professor, offered guidance in how to regain the ability to move with more ease in the face of persisting pain. Dr. Siva Raghavan described his role as an anesthesiologist who spends 25 per cent of his time treating patients at the Chronic Pain Clinic at Penticton Regional Hospital.

The panel of pain experts provided the audience with three take-home points:
1. Chronic pain is a complex and multi-faceted condition, yet there is hope and we have many resources available in the Penticton area
2. A multi-disciplinary approach is the best answer for people with complex pain conditions
3. Patient involvement in pain self-care, is as important as the expertise of health care professionals

Public comments during a closing question-and-answer period indicated resources are lacking to support those who live with chronic pain. People often don’t know where to go for pain education and are not aware of local self-help programs. Even discussing pain and its impact on lives is difficult.

The negative stigma associated with chronic pain, the local shortage of family physicians and the absence of mental health support are all barriers to living well again. The panel shared those concerns and echoed the need to develop and fund innovative chronic pain management models.

“Just as the challenge for a person in pain is to find and then persist with effective self-care techniques towards living well again,” said Teo, “our community needs to develop and offer effective programs for the 20 per cent of our population living in pain who mostly feel like they are on their own.”

Funding for the study and the symposium was provided by the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation.

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