Chronic pain sufferers in New Jersey and surrounding states are finding relief through innovative methods of care in the new "Pain Center" at the New Jersey Medical School on the Newark campus of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMD).
The pain center offers a specialized multidisciplinary approach to diagnosis and treatment of chronic pain, considered one of the medical profession's toughest challenges. This is reflected by the extent of suffering and the general inadequacy of pain relief in the United States. An estimated 88 million Americans suffer annually from acute or chronic pain. About 50 million people suffer temporary or permanent physical disability, accountingfor a loss of 700 working days per year and over 560 billion spent annually on health care, compensation, and litigation.
The consolidation of pain experts from different medical specialties, coupled with innovative therapy, is the thrust of the pain center approach. The concept has been developing over the past 15 years in response to deficiencies in understanding and treating pain. Therapy is aimed at blocking painful stimuli and modifying pain perception. Treatments include acupuncture, thermo (heat) and cryo (cold) therapies, medication, nerve blocks, biofeedback, hypnosis, behavior modification, psychological counseling, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) - a form of electroacupuncture.
The idea is to make chronic pain sufferers functional again by easing, if not eliminating, the persistently intolerable pain. Surgery is considered only as a last resort. A unique, new potential treatment - photobiostimulation, sometimes referred to as laser acupuncture - is under investigation as part of the UMD's pain center program. The laser would possibly relieve pain with no discomfort or inconvenience, and could be applied to children.
Patients referred to the pain center require extensive medical workups and
testing. All previous medical records are collected to avoid duplication and assist in directing patients as rapidly as possible to appropriate specialists at the center who work together in diagnosis and therapy.