Our First Pain Summit: Getting Help Right Where You Need It
Horizons in Hemophilia, July 2012
By Penny Kumpf RN, von Willebrand Community Outreach Nurse, and Christi Humphrey, LCSW, Social Worker
Pain. That word conjures up many thoughts and emotions—usually negative. It is the most frequent topic Hemophilia of Georgia social workers and nurses talk to adult clients about at home visits and at Hemophilia Treatment Centers. It seems to affect every aspect of the lives of our clients. In response to this great need, HoG developed a pain committee to begin to offer tools to our clients to help them with this important issue. The committee has been actively working to find resources, develop community relationships, and educate ourselves about pain interventions.
On June 23, Hemophilia of Georgia presented our first educational event addressing pain. This program was for adults who have bleeding disorders. We were delighted to have Dr. J. Jarrett Moss of Northside Spine & Pain Specialists, Jake Irwin, DPT, MTC of Pro Performance Therapy, and Meg Randolph, MS, PT, a Certified Tai Chi for Arthritis Instructor as guest speakers.
Dr. Moss gave a wonderful talk about how pain affects the body. Dr. Moss stated pain management should focus on improved functioning. What a person is able to do in a day tells more of a story than anything else. The doctor reviewed medications and how they benefit and can hinder a person in pain. He also discussed nerve blocks and lifestyle changes that improve pain symptoms.
Dr. Moss also talked about recent changes to Georgia laws that direct medical practitioners when they prescribe narcotics for patients. Health care practitioners must consider a variety of factors before they can dispense medications. Practitioners must have patients sign prescription contracts; they must test urine regularly for narcotics levels; and in January of 2013, practitioners will begin reporting to a new prescription monitoring program. These laws must be followed by prescribing practitioners or they can lose their license. This will make obtaining opioids for pain relief more difficult. It will be important to work closely with the person who prescribes your medications to ensure you and your provider are compliant with the new laws.
Jake Irwin, DPT, gave a well-received presentation on how physical therapy can help with painful joints. You can visit a physical therapist for a personal plan to help you deal with joint disease and pain. Exercise and movement of joints is strongly encouraged. Jake talked about specific activities that you can do to help strengthen and support different areas of the body that are experiencing pain. Talk with your medical practitioner about making an appointment with a physical therapist in your area. A physical therapist can help you set up a plan of exercise and pain relief that might include exercise, a TENS unit (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), swimming, or other activities designed just for you.
Penny Kumpf, RN, HoG Von Willebrand Community Outreach Nurse, gave a presentation called “Joint Jazz” that covered how bleeding into a joint can cause damage and how you can recognize, treat, and prevent further joint disease. In addition to factor, conservative treatment is a great way to manage bleeding symptoms and pain. RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) should be used with any bleed or injury. Please talk to your Outreach Nurse to review joint basics or if you have any questions about RICE. Recent research into joint bleeding has revealed that people with hemophilia can sometimes have microscopic bleeding in joints that they do not even recognize. These bleeds can increase joint damage.
Christi Humphrey, LCSW, HoG Social Worker, led a session on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Pain is more than just a physical issue. Research into brain mapping shows that pain signals stimulate the emotion center of the brain; therefore all pain is emotional. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction teaches specific skills that help a person be in the current moment as it is. This awareness can help people change their relationship to the pain they experience and help decrease the emotional reactions we have to pain. Christi led participants in two mindfulness exercises to give everyone the chance to try out the techniques for themselves.
Meg Randolph, MS, PT, presented a very relaxing session introducing us to Tai Chi for Arthritis. She teaches Tai Chi at the Wellness Center at DeKalb Medical Center for those who have pain associated with Arthritis. Meg led participants through several movement exercises that help to strengthen and stretch the muscles that support the joints.
Hemophilia of Georgia clients have been exploring many types of pain management on their own. One client recently wrote an article for the HoG blog about her experience with Reiki and introduced us to Dana Young of Dragonfly Reiki. Dana describes Reiki as a “relaxing light touch therapy that assists the mind and body in returning to its natural state of balance. Clinical observation and some preliminary evidence from small studies demonstrate that Reiki treatment can be beneficial in pain management.” Dana offered a booth at the summit to provide information and education and gave demonstrations to interested participants.
The summit also provided adults who have bleeding disorders a chance to get to know each other and interact on a more personal level. Lunch was filled with much laughter and discussion. Please contact your Hemophilia of Georgia nurse or social worker if you have ideas about other adult events that you would be interested in attending.