A pain management clinic should be familiar with and also capable of treating the whole person – approaches that focus on the provision of medication alone, or surgical intervention alone, or psychological health alone are doomed to fail. The principal reason for that failure is that the patient is not engaged as an agent in their own “cure”. Here at TNC we know that brain health is fundamental to recovering from a chronic pain condition. As brain health improves, the mental capacity to cope with or actively manage will strengthen.
Take the example of a kitchen accident while preparing for a party: while baking, one burns their own hand on the oven rack but cannot slow down the frantic preparations for the party and thereby is able to actively ignore or interfere with the awareness of pain. The pain is real. So is the ability to actively ignore or interfere with awareness.
One needs a relatively intact ability to control awareness in order to accomplish the wonderful feat of pain control. We intend to treat the person, their brain and higher mental processes, and the pain syndrome itself as an entire “package” so that autonomy in everyday life can be achieved. It takes an incredible amount of energy to actively focus awareness away from pain – we have become expert at preparing our patients for the task – and then teaching them how to manage their condition.