Jaklyn had been injured before, but this time health professionals did not seem to know how to help her. She could see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices – people with injuries like hers usually got better much faster.
She started to feel ashamed, as if it was her fault that the pain wasn’t resolving. Only later, after finding a health professional with expert training in pain care, did she learn that this was an all too common experience.
If you've experienced something similar, you are not alone! That said, there is more than one reason for hope that stories like these will occur less often in Canada. Did you know that there is a Canadian Pain Task Force?
This is the first of a series of blogs that will be discussing the October 2020 report of the Canadian Pain Task Force, and why it matters to you.
What is the Canadian Pain Task Force?
The Canadian Pain Task Force began its work in May 2019, with goals of providing direction to Health Canada on how to address the needs of Canadians with chronic pain. Their task is enormous. Pain is complex, and with many different health professionals involved in pain care, there are still gaps in research.
Inequities in health care and education persist, and there is a general lack of awareness about the burden of pain on individuals and on society.
Over the past year, the task force has focused on interviewing, engaging, and consulting with a wide variety of Canadians. Their objective has been to identify best practices for pain management and gather suggestions for the development of effective strategies to better understand, prevent, and manage pain.
What did the task force find?
Two of the most important discussions in the task force’s report are the need for better education of health professionals, and attention to what they refer to as 'the transition from acute to chronic pain.'
Health professionals in Canada do not receive enough education about pain management
The focus of education is usually on acute pain - rather than on what to do when pain is not resolving as is usually expected
The solution seems to be to provide all health professionals with education so they can identify when people like Jaklyn need a different treatment approach. Advanced training also needs to be implemented, so that more health professionals will know how to adapt assessment and treatment when recovery is not following the expected path.
Part of the solution is ensuring that people in pain are not blamed when treatment is not successful, and this will be addressed in a subsequent blog.
At Lifemark, we have already begun taking steps towards these improvements identified in the task force. In 2018, we hired one of Canada’s leaders in pain care to help us and developed our own internal educational program. Physiotherapists already receive education about pain and pain management, but there was still room for improvement.
In the past two years, we have created a continuing education process that provides up-to-date research and clinical practice innovations available to our clinical staff across Canada.
In addition, we are bringing together passionate clinicians who will be mentors for our new staff, building a culture in which we better understand pain and know the many different approaches to care that can help patients get back to life.
What does this mean for you?
Our clinicians continue to provide the highly effective care that we know works for the majority of patients.We know that there are times when patients do not recover function and pain does not resolve as usual. When this happens, patients will receive the attention of Lifemark staff with advanced training and skill in pain care.
When pain persists, sometimes a patient needs a new approach. Other times, the specialized knowledge or care of additional health professional team members is needed.
At Lifemark, we are building a culture that we hope will expand beyond our clinics. We agree with the Canadian Pain Task Force’s recommendations, including the notion that all health professionals need to provide care to people in pain based on evidence of effectiveness, thorough assessment, and treatment that addresses the complexity of pain and the person as a whole.