For Dorothy Bryson of Wheaton, the pain from sinus tarsi syndrome had been constant for at least seven years. “I had tried a lot of things to no avail. I had taken medications, been to doctors. It’s hard to cope with chronic pain and often friends and family just don’t understand what is wrong.”
When Pain Takes Control
“Patients who come for our programs may be unable to hold down a job, shop for groceries, or take care of their homes. Many have trouble walking more than a few minutes at a time,” according to Marianjoy’s Lisa Schwarz, PT, MHPE, OCS, ATC. “Family members and friends often end up helping the patient more and more…that’s a clear sign that the individual does not have control over the pain.”
While there isn’t a magic solution for chronic pain, there are options and there is hope. Dr. Jeffrey Oken, Marianjoy Medical Director and chronic pain specialist, explains it this way, “There may not be a “cure” for many who experience chronic pain, but research and experience clearly show that with the proper interdisciplinary approach to pain management, most patients can enjoy productive and satisfying lives by maximizing their function while learning ways to cope with pain.”
The Marianjoy Integrative Pain Treatment Center at Oakbrook Terrace offers two specialized programs designed to help individuals with chronic pain who want to learn ways to manage their pain and regain functionality. Both programs are designed for people who are willing to accept a “management” instead of “curative” philosophy for chronic pain.
The Pain Management Toolbox
“We like to use the visual analogy of a toolbox,” says Schwarz, Coordinator of the Integrative Pain Management Program. “Patients come to us not knowing where else to turn. They’ve tried other doctors, medications, and treatments, but nothing lasts and they don’t know where to turn or what to do…their toolbox is empty. As patients work with all the members of the Marianjoy team, they learn many new skills…ways to cope, manage the pain and move past it. Then when they are back to their daily lives, and the pain flares up or starts to consume them, they pull out their “toolbox” of pain management tools and choose whichever seems like it would work best under the circumstances.”
The coping mechanisms that patients learn at Marianjoy include a variety of exercises, deep breathing, meditation, stretching, etc.
Dorothy Bryson learned from the program that it’s all about taking control of your own life. “You have to alter your thinking and focus on what’s important. Sometimes the pain seems like it’s going to win, but that’s when you try one of your pain management tools.”
Full-Day and Half-Day Programs
The Comprehensive Pain Management Program at Marianjoy is a full day program that has been in existence for over 20 years and is the only CARF-accredited interdisciplinary pain program in Illinois. This 21-day outpatient program focuses on helping people manage chronic pain so they can be restored to a lifestyle of function and mobility.
Morning Solutions for Pain Management is a new program at Marianjoy that is less intense than the full day comprehensive program. Patients still come to Oakbrook Terrace for 21 days, but they spend only one half of the day in the program. Some people choose this program so they can continue to work at least part time.
Marianjoy’s pain programs benefit from the dedicated clinicians who make up the interdisciplinary team, including: a physiatrist who is board-certified in pain management, physical therapists who specialize in pain management, a psychologist, a nurse educator, a biofeedback specialist, and a case manager. As a team, the staff works with each individual to design a plan that addresses their unique experience with chronic pain.
Ultimately, both of the pain programs at Marianjoy aim to help people build confidence by returning control of their lives, increasing productivity and function, cultivating lifestyle behaviors that promote wellness, restoring an appropriate level of physical activity, improving self image, and achieving control over medications.
“I was referred to Dr. Oken and the pain program by my surgeon. Before I started in the program, I couldn’t lift or sit comfortably,” explained Marianjoy Pain Program patient Curtis Moore. “Now as I prepare to ‘graduate’ from the 21-day program, I am refreshed and feel very hopeful about the future. I do feel physically better, but that’s only part of it. I’ve learned to function better with the pain because I look at everything differently now. I am more conscious of what I do, and therefore make better decisions, which greatly improves the way I feel.”
“It all comes down to improving the person’s overall health and quality of life. Untreated chronic pain rarely gets better and can lead to other medical conditions,” according to Dr. Oken.
So how do you find out if the Marianjoy Integrative Pain Treatment Center’s programs are right for you? Patients can make an appointment for a chronic pain evaluation with Dr. Oken or one of the other Marianjoy Medical Group physiatrists at Oakbrook Terrace or our Wheaton location. If they feel you would benefit from one of the programs, a case manager will work with you and your insurance company to coordinate benefits.
For more information on Marianjoy’s pain programs, visit www.marianjoy.org/pain, or to make an appointment for an evaluation, call 630-909-6545.