President’s Message, April 2019

Ann Quinlan-Colwell, PhD, APN

While reviewing the agenda for our upcoming annual Southern Pain Society meeting Integrated Pain Care: New Perspectives, after looking at the varied topics being presented and the backgrounds of the speakers, I was reminded of the concept that “it takes a village.”  Considering that phrase led me to investigate the term and asses if it was reasonable to  make that connection with our conference.  Surprisingly, the first definition I found was in the Urban Dictionary which explained the phrase it takes a village is used to describe the enormity of a difficult task or how many people are needed to “clean up the mess.”  Although that wasn’t the connection I initially made between our conference and the phrase, it certainly resonated with our intent for the conference in relation to the current dual opioid and pain crises.  Along with the attention the opioid crisis is receiving, those of us working daily with patients living with pain know that for many of them there is a simultaneous pain crisis.  As pain professionals we have a responsibility to help to “clean up” what many consider to be  “the mess” that resulted from the opioid crisis and now the consequential pain crisis.  We also are well aware that the task is far from easy (i.e. difficult).

Although it was tempting to be content with the Urban Dictionary definition, I knew there are other meanings.  When considered from ancient African culture, the phrase it takes a village means that there is a community responsibility to connect together to safely raise a child (or resolve a crisis).   As a community of pain management professionals, we have a community responsibility to advocate for and provide safe and effective pain management.  When discussing her book, It Takes a Village, Hillary Clinton explained the phrase as “we are all in this together.”  The diverse group of SPS attendees and speakers personify the Clinton explanation.  Similarly, the term is also frequently used as a metaphor to describe the need for a variety of people to join together to  achieve an optimal outcome.  Those were the connotations that were originally sparked in me when reviewing our conference agenda.   As an organization we are a multidiscipline group working together to improve pain management for all patients with pain. 

Today, we are faced with enormous healthcare challenges and we know we need many clinicians from numerous disciplines to work together to resolve the issues generated by the opioid and pain crises.  It is clear that the best option available is utilizing a multidisciplinary multimodal approach of pain management.  Such an approach when utilized immediately following trauma and/or postoperatively will not only promote optimal safe resolution of acute pain situations but will also help avert the development of subsequent chronic  pain.  For those people who are living with chronic pain, intentionally utilizing a variety of pharmacologic and complementary interventions is the most effective approach to control pain and optimize function.

This year the  annual SPS Conference will begin with Blake Fagan, MD taking us through the history of the opioid crisis.  Along with other presenters he will then discuss safe pain management with controlled substances as well as non-opioid analgesic options.  Dan Doleys, PhD, will guide us in the importance of pre-opioid screening prior to starting opioid therapy. Our key note address will be presented by Steve Stanos, DO from Swedish Medical System in Seattle.  Utilizing the extensive knowledge, he has acquired through his amazing career in pain medicine and his participation on numerous national task forces, Dr. Stanos will bring us to the crossroads we now find pain management.  He will then offer innovative solutions for safe and comprehensive care.  Our own past president Mordi Potash, MD will enlighten us about utilizing psychopharmacology as a way to manage pain. 

This year several professionals will discuss how to help patients manage pain with non-medication options.  Non-opioid interventions, with a focus on neuropathic pain, will be discussed by Misha Backanja, MD.  From LSU, Ashley Mullens, PhD will give a lively overview of therapeutic cannabis.  Jennifer Murphy, PhD will explain what is involved with pain psychology and the use of the cognitive behavioral therapy methods in which she trains healthcare providers nationally.  Eric Royster, MD, a local New Orleans physician, will describe interventional options for managing pain.  Dr. Stanos will then discuss the value of functional restoration for chronic pain through the biopsychosocial model. Consistent with the importance of function,  the many pain management options available through physical therapy will be shared by Monique Serpas, DPT.

Cutting edge topics will be intertwined.  Ken Mautner, MD will present on the role of platelet-rich plasma and stem cell therapies as pain management for orthopedic conditions.  Then Forest Tennant, MD will share information on hormonal care as an intervention for chronic pain.  Our time will conclude with Charles Figley, PhD sharing his important work on how as clinicians we can help our patients most effectively by developing resilience to compassion fatigue within ourselves. 

Please join our “village” of pain management sages to support you and your local village of pain management caregivers.  Better yet, in the village spirit, consider bringing a colleague along to NOLA! You can return home as a team to invigorate and enlighten your own village of pain management professionals!   We look forward to seeing you in September!


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