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January 2, 2008 > Do You Suffer From Chronic Pain?

Do You Suffer From Chronic Pain?

Washington Hospital Seminar Focuses on Pain Management Alternatives

Chronic pain can be debilitating and life-altering, taking a huge toll on individuals and their families. It can get in the way of working, spending time with friends and family, participating in hobbies, and enjoying life.
"About 80 percent of what I treat is back pain," said Dr. Raghu Katragadda, a Washington Hospital physician specializing in pain management who will present an upcoming seminar on the topic. "I will also talk about neck pain, headaches, and pain experienced with fibromyalgia and cancer."
"Alternatives for Chronic Pain Management" will be held on Tuesday, January 8, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., at the Conrad E. Anderson, MD Auditorium at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, in Fremont. To register for the seminar, call (800) 963-7070.
There are serious risks associated with many of the pain medications on the market today, including heart and liver damage as well as dependency or addiction issues. While many people with chronic pain can't avoid taking pain medications, there are alternatives that can be used in the overall pain management plan that can help reduce or eliminate the need for potentially dangerous medications.
"It's always best to try everything else before you start using serious medications like narcotics," Katragadda said. "Narcotics are always the last option."
Treating chronic pain can be very complex, often with multiple treatment goals. These goals may include comfort, better physical functioning, and getting back to work or other "normal" activities.
Evidence is mounting regarding the benefits of alternative therapies like injections, interventional techniques, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic techniques, exercise, radiofrequency, biofeedback and dietary approaches. Katragadda will address these and other strategies for managing pain.
"Behavior modification and lifestyle changes play a big role," he said. "Having a positive attitude and learning to cope with stress are important. When you are stressed, chemicals in your body react and cause even more pain."

Coping With Pain
Because of the significant impact chronic pain can have on quality of life, part of managing pain is psychological. Learning to cope with pain is a significant factor in minimizing its impact.
Dealing with constant pain can contribute to feelings of helplessness and depression. Katragadda will discuss some of these coping strategies.
For example, accepting the pain is the first step toward coping with it. Learn all you can about your physical condition and if there is no cure, you will need to accept the fact that there will always be a certain amount of pain.
Take an active role in managing your condition. Consider your physician a partner in your pain management plan.
Learn to set priorities. Look beyond the pain to what is truly important in your life and make it a priority to get back involved with the activities you love.
Set realistic goals that are within your power to reach. And take time to enjoy your successes.
The constant struggle with pain can cause many emotions. Acknowledge and deal with your feelings.
Learn to relax. Deep breathing, visualization and other relaxation techniques can help.
Don't dwell on your pain. Stay focused on what matters in your life and don't let the pain take center stage.
For the majority of people who experience chronic pain, a combination of different alternatives offers the most effective strategy for managing it.
"Most people with chronic pain have to face the fact that their pain will never be zero," Katragadda said. "They need to learn how to reduce their pain as much as possible so it has the least impact on their overall enjoyment and quality of life."
To learn more about pain management alternatives, register for the seminar at (800) 963-7070. For more information about other Washington Hospital programs and services, visit

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