A Search For Effective Treatment Options For Chronic Pain Patients

by:  Traci Patterson, Owner, Advanced Pathways Hypnosis

There are over 100 million Americans dealing with chronic pain today. They are searching for answers. They are holding onto hope that they will find a way to get better. They are trying to get to a doctor that will have an answer. Many patients are being misdiagnosed for years prior to getting a correct diagnosis.  Others are put on countless medications that typically are not working, having to endure numerous procedures because doctors don’t know what else to do. And then when all else fails, they are told they need either a Spinal Cord Stimulator or a Pain Pump. Then if those options fail, the doctors want to refer them on to somebody else because they are out of options and the patient(s) feels like they are left, in effect, holding the bag.

What will it take for the patients to get access to effective treatment options without being denied access to what they really need? The unfortunate facts are that the majority of chronic pain patients and cancer patients do not get sufficient relief from their pain medications. Therefore, the doctors continue to prescribe a cocktail of various medications hoping that it will do the trick. The patients then end up paying the ultimate price with side effects caused by the medications. Don’t get me wrong, I am not, in any way, stating that Pain Management doctors should not be prescribing medications. What I am stating is that they do not get to the area in the body that is responsible for sending out the pain signals, and this is why they are not effective. The insurance companies are willing to pay for prescription after prescription, and yet they do not want to reimburse for creams that are more effective or for a treatment that is non-drug related.

I just received an update from a leading pharmaceutical company with a press release about a new drug that they received approval from the US Patent Office. This is for a new proprietary drug for neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia. This means they are able to start double-blind studies and placebo studies on the medication.  The interesting part of the write-up is when they mention, “The market for such a medication worldwide runs into many billions of dollars.” This is prior to their comment about the drug’s ‘lack of serious side effects’, but yet there is no further comment as to any side effects discovered to date.

It’s great that they are looking at putting other options on the market for doctors to prescribe to their patients, but what about making other treatment options that are currently available accessible to patients? When will this happen?

Spinal Cord Stimulators are heavily pushed by pain management doctors and neurologists for chronic pain. I have spoken with several physicians off the record about the implantation and use of the Spinal Cord Stimulators.  During these conversations, I’ve been told that some doctors utilize them more than others because they can make more money, and it is easier than doing multiple blocks and going down the long treatment road with a chronic pain patient. Again, it comes down to reimbursement, unfortunately, and a push by Durable Medical Equipment (DME) companies.  The general cost for a Spinal Cord Stimulator, unit, surgery, etc., can be close to $100,000 (sometimes more) depending on the manufacturer, area, hospital, and other variables.

What about Calmare Therapy? The Calmare device uses a biophysical rather than a biochemical approach. A ‘no-pain’ message is transmitted to the nerves via disposable surface electrodes applied to the skin in the region of the patient’s pain. The perception of pain is cancelled when the no-pain message replaces that of pain, by using the same pathway through the surface electrodes in a non-invasive way. Maximum benefit is achieved through follow-up treatments. The patient may be able to go for extended periods of time between subsequent treatments while experiencing significant pain control and relief.

This particular treatment option has been around for several years. Calmare tried for quite some time to get name recognition and focused primarily on social media, word of mouth, etc. Insurance companies have refused to reimburse for their treatments even though they have been found to be effective.  Why?  One reason could be that they are not tied into the large DME companies and conglomerates.  It is an interesting way of looking at it. Calmare did get a helping hand on June 30, 2014 when a Judge in New York ruled in favor of Calmare, instructing Allstate Insurance Company to reimburse for personal injury claims that involved the use of Calmare Therapy. Calmare also got some great publicity from the daytime TV show ‘Doctors’ when they spoke about a ‘brand new treatment option for chronic pain and CRPS’ on an episode in the month of June, 2014.  Then later in 2014 when the Mayo Clinic finally did research on Calmare for Chemotherapy Induced Neuropathic Pain, and found this treatment to be effective.  Keep in mind their therapy has been around for several years, but because a New York University decided to utilize it, it is now considered new.  Generally the cost for this treatment is around $2,500 for 10 treatments.   Patients typically start with 10 treatments and then will have to do follow-up treatments to stay pain free if they have CRPS/RSD.

Ketamine Infusions are talked about widely with CRPS patients.  This is also a medication used for those with severe depression, irretractable pain, and other chronic pain conditions.  There definitely is some baggage that comes along with the treatments, but they are mostly effective. Patients have to undergo a screening process, meet certain guidelines, and then of course there is the financial burden. I believe it is approximately $50,000-$60,000 for the initial set of infusions, hospital stay, and then the first follow-up infusions at six months. Insurance will not reimburse for this. They have gone to court to in some states to try to get reimbursement, but it is very difficult. More and more patients are looking at this avenue because they are unaware of Calmare and the other options available. Ketamine infusions do come with some side effects, and I would urge anyone thinking of this option to please do their research first.

I also urge some research at this juncture because I am hearing more and more about the infusions being done out-patient instead of in-patient and they are not as effective if done this way.  Secondly, I have not seen any studies as of yet on the long-term use of Ketamine when used in high dosages.

Last, but absolutely not least on the list is clinical hypnosis. I know many people are going to start reaching for their mouse to click away, but please keep reading. I am referring very specifically to a specialist in hypnosis that has a strong background with chronic pain patients, CRPS, fibromyalgia, cancer pain, phantom limb pain, PTSD, stress, anxiety, etc. You should first determine whether the hypnotist/hypnotherapist has a certification in ‘Pain Management’, and are they familiar with the condition that you are diagnosed with.  A good program will be ‘multi-therapeutic’; meaning it will include hypnosis/hypnotherapy, biofeedback, light/sound therapy and other modalities.

I personally was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), and the final treatment that got me into remission was working with someone that had a background working with chronic pain patients using a multi-therapeutic approach.  He was credentialed in Pain Management and many other areas as well.  A one week commitment is what it takes.  Hypnosis for a week long intensive can run around $3,000 – $4,000, but can fluctuate depending on the geographic area that you are being treated.

This is a drug-free treatment option that can dramatically decrease your pain and in some patients they can even get into full remission.  At this time, it is not well-publicized as it is not backed by pharmaceutical companies or DME companies.  Yet there are many studies on the efficacy of this treatment by Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Mayo Clinic, NIH, etc.  Patients are given the tools be self-sufficient.  No side effects as it is drug-free, and no long-term follow-up needed.

If you are searching for answers for chronic pain, CRPS/RSD, fibromyalgia, chronic migraines or other health/wellness issues;  please take the time to consider some of the non-invasive treatment options in this article. Never give up on regaining you health, life and success!  Yes, it is possible… if I can do it, so can you!!!

For more information on CRPS, chronic pain or Traci’s journey, please feel free to contact the author, Traci Patterson.

Traci has a dynamic background from a perspective that few if any one other Hypnotist can offer. Her background as a chronic pain patient diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), someone that utilized hypnosis to get into remission, trained under Mr. Ron Eslinger, and is now herself a practicing hypnotist is rare. She has patients that contact her from all over the United States and Internationally.  Traci is considered, ‘The CRPS Hypnotist’.

Traci@AdvancedPathways.com, or visit my website at www.AdvancedPathways.com.