LIFE Before Death #16: Chronic Pain

2011 September 2
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Short Film 16 of 50 in the LIFE Before Death documentary series about the global crisis in untreated pain and the dramatic life changing affect palliative care services can deliver to patients and their families around the world.

In “Chronic Pain”  we discover how widespread and debilitating chronic pain is and that chronic pain is classified as a disease, not a symptom.

“Pain’s one thing, most people experience pain in their lifetime – chronic pain though is a whole different animal,” reflects cancer patient Don (USA). “So for those of us that have had that, and they get relief from it, it gives us back our ability to really enjoy a lot of life.”

“Don had a lot of really severe physical pain,” explains Dr Jay Thomas (USA). “The cancer had actually eaten into nerves coming off his spine and caused a really severe form of pain – a lot of burning radiating pain — and it took a combination of medicines to try and get that pain under control pharmacologically.”

“It all encompassing,” confesses Don. “It can take your life away from you.”

“One in five Australians have chronic pain,” states Professor Michael Cousins (Australia). “And I have confidence that the same situation exists in most developed countries. Of those one in five people, one third of them are severely disabled by it.”

“Research has shown that chronic pain moves on to insomnia, people’s sleep patterns are disrupted, their general quality of life begins to decline if the pain isn’t addressed,” reports Dr Natalya Dinat (South Africa).

“Debilitating pain for me starts again on that scale at about 8 and with the right medicine you can you can take it down to a 3 or a 4,” explains Don.

“When you see a patient coming in with chronic pain you don’t realize how severe his pain is,” admits Dr Daniela Mosoiu (Romania). “Where with acute pain it’s all there in his face, sweating, colors and so on.”

“When you move over from acute pain to a chronic pain situation, you are dealing not with a symptom but you’re now dealing with a disease,” explains Professor Cousins.

“The absence of opioids in a chronic pain situation I think would be unbearable. I think, goodness, I think it would be easier to die,” confesses Don. “Absence of pain, at least in my case, that’s a dream, but definitely with the right expertise and the right doctors that pain should be more than manageable.”

Featuring Dr Jay Thomas (USA), Professor Michael Cousins (Australia), Dr Natalya Dinat (South Africa), Dr Daniela Mosoiu (Romania), Don (USA).

If you’ve missed previous episodes, catch up on the LIFE Before Death website…

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