Monday, May 17, 2010

Chronic Pain

Nurse practitioners long before I started my career did the hard work of legitimizing our profession. In most states Nurse Practitioners are able to write for controlled substances. Many choose not to exercise this privilege, for it opens the doors to potential problems.

Thank God there are medicines available to people with pain. Some acute injuries, post-surgical pain, and certain chronic conditions are helped by narcotics. For people with addiction issues and chronic pain, the situation becomes much more complex.

Anyone who takes pain medication for a certain period of time can develop a physical dependency. That is, when the drug is not taken, he or she will experience withdrawal symptoms. It is not comfortable, to say the least, and many of the patients we care for at The Coleman Institute fall into this category. An accelerated opiate detox can comfortably help them get through this.

People with the disease of addiction can also be helped to get off narcotics, but they will likely want to continue to use. Until they deal with the reasons and behaviors that drive them to choosing to use drugs or alcohol, getting a detox is just a quick fix—albeit often a life saving intervention.

After significant research, Julie Smyser, one of our staff Nurse Practitioners has developed a tool to help us determine whether a patient receiving chronic pain medications is also at risk for abusing them. Based on a detailed questionnaire, and comprehensive history and physical, she has come up with a rating system that allows us to set follow up schedules and monitoring criteria. With this tool and our extensive experience with these situations, we can more effectively serve not only our chronic pain patients, but also to help identify people at risk for addiction and substance abuse.

The beauty of this for many people is they can have this consultation done through our Hamilton Family Practice office at the same location. Should the client and our staff determine that he or she is a candidate for an accelerated opiate detox, they can immediately schedule this through our intake coordinator, Jennifer Pius.

If you are a PCP, a person suffering with chronic pain or a concerned family member, please give us a call. Check us out at and

Joan Shepherd - FNP

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