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Why Our Doctors Need to Practice 'Pain Acceptance'

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It seems more and more doctors are implementing a “pain acceptance” method of “treatment” for chronic pain patients. This method avoids the use of opioids and includes alternatives like physical therapy, yoga, etc. You know, everything many of us have tried but doesn’t actually help anything. According to Dr. Jane Ballantyne, the doctor who first introduced this idea in 2015, doctors and patients should acknowledge that the pain will never be at a zero and we should just accept and live with our pain.

I don’t think that anyone who lives with chronic pain believes it will ever get to a zero, but we do believe that we have the right to adequate treatment and care from our doctors, and their responsibility is to help us find a way to minimize the pain as much as possible. Telling us to deal with it and try yoga sure sounds a lot like they’re giving up on us.

Maybe it’s the doctors (and our government) who need to practice “pain acceptance.”

I accept that my pain will never go away, never be anywhere near a zero, and that there is no magic pill or exercise that will fix it. I accept that while my doctor is doing everything he can to help me maintain the best quality of life possible, I will do the same. But if my doctor cannot accept the fact that I have a disease that causes me perpetual pain, nor accept the fact that opioid medications are often the most effective and practical pain management option, then maybe that doctor shouldn’t be treating patients with pain.

It seems that doctors and our government have washed their hands of us chronic pain patients. Would a doctor refuse someone the medication for their illness? No, because the doctor knows how dangerous that could be for the patient’s well-being. So why is it OK for them to do that to us?

We accept our pain, we accept that opioids and other medications have risks just like anything else, we accept responsibility for our part in our treatment. When will everyone else accept it?

Getty image by Favor_of_God

Originally published: January 3, 2018
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