Dr Wayne Jonas Discusses Unmet Needs in Treating Pain

Wayne Jonas, MD, executive director of Samueli Integrative Health Programs at H&S Ventures, discusses the unmet needs that still exist for patients with pain.

Wayne Jonas, MD, executive director of Samueli Integrative Health Programs at H&S Ventures, discusses the unmet needs that still exist for patients with pain.

Transcript

What are some of the unmet needs for patients with chronic and acute pain?

I would say the main unmet need that we have in the management of chronic pain is the failure to take into account the whole person. People with chronic pain do not just have a problem in the area that the pain has manifested in their body, but affects them as entire people. It affects their psychology, sometimes precipitating or aggravating mental health conditions. It can affect their sleep, which then affects multiple other things. It can affect their social life so that they can't actually go out and participate in activities or even care for their families, for example. And it even affects their souls. Some people give up. They say, "What's the purpose of trying to live my life in joy if I'm in chronic pain?"

So, the basic unmet need is to take care of the whole person, listen to the whole person, and address all their needs. Mental health, behavioral health and psychological approaches should be part of all chronic pain management. Sleep, for example, is often overlooked and yet is a key part of chronic pain management.

I think the second major unmet need is a lack of knowledge and skills for nondrug approaches. The evidence has now accumulated that there are many nondrug approaches available and effective for chronic pain and we need to have these tools in our toolbox, as providers, to meet those needs.