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Dr. Adams’ 100 Pain Mantras

December 22, 2009 | Filed Under: General Information | Comments(0)

(Collected during chronic pain support groups 2000-2006)

1.     There is no greater love or admiration than that felt for the person who can show you how to reliably relieve your pain.

2.     In self-managing your pain, you got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going because you might not get there.  (Adapted from saying by Yogi Berra)

3.     Blessed are those who, having no personal experience to draw on about CNCP, just can’t stop giving us abundant evidence of that fact.

4.     “Do. No try.” (Yoda, in The Empire Strikes Back)  [Large poster hung in the pain support group room]

5.     If you’re going through Hell, at least be as effective and consistent as you can so you can get out as quick as possible and with least burns.

6.     To those who demand “outcome studies” before taking action on pain, as Einstein said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”

7.     In helping CNCP patients overcome pain, the average doctor does “what I can,” genius makes pain control happen.

8.     If you can do the common things in science in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.

9.     Breakthrough pain is that unpleasant jolt you get when you get distracted from doing things wisely, consistently and correctly enough to remain functional.

10.  Not only is there no God, try getting authorization for a refill for a pain med on a Sunday.

11.  Want to make an enemy? Tell your GP, who thinks he’s doing pain management, that he really doesn’t know what he’s doing.

12.  A bad pain doctor is one of those people who would be greatly improved by Death.

13.  If you still haven’t learned that you have to go to pain specialists to get effective pain management, for sure you’ll find a non-specialist who will tell you, “Let’s try this.”

14.  Do legislators really believe that it is an insurance card that causes severe unremitting pain, and that the time for treatment is when the insurance company tires of sending you denials?

15.  Few things are harder on surgeons’ Egos than to have a patient tell them they still have pain after the surgery.

16.  If Life were as error free as surgeons would have us believe, we’d all still be living in Paradise.

17.  If you don’t believe what we say about the risk of going to non-specialists, the best way to test their effectiveness is to do exactly as they say and in 3 months count how often you now go to work compared to when you started.

18.  Happiness is chronic pain at a level 4 when for 15 years it was at a level 8.

19.  When you have chronic pain, a real friend never asks you, “How’s your pain today?

20.  With doctors who are not qualified in pain management, you can get more with a polite request for pain relief and a gun than you can with just a polite request for pain relief.

21.  In response to a colleague suggesting I get an assistant to help me conduct the pain workshops:  “I guess it is time I stepped down and let a less-experienced doctor who never had chronic pain take over.”

22.  There are some experiences in Life that should not be expected twice of any human being. One of them is listening to doctors who aren’t certified in pain management pontificate about how their pain patients’ pain is “all in their heads.”

23.  “It’s time,” the Walrus said, “for chronic pain patients to stop begging for qualified pain management that restores their ability to enjoy as normal a Quantity of Life as possible.”

24.  Today, expect insurance carriers to only behave compassionately once they’ve first exhausted all other alternatives.

25.  There are two laws for success in the politics of health care: to win votes, disregard the data and talk all the nonsense you can; to lose votes, try to do the right thing for a deserving constituency.

26.  In America today, if a clinician is effective and compassionate, we have to ask, Are we in the right country?

27.  Today, anyone can become a businessman, doctor or thief. The problem is how many doctors insist on trying to be all three.

28.  Since 2000, molecular research showed that chronic pain alters DNA. In 2010, any physician who still says that “chronic pain has no function,” has met the diagnostic criteria for Mental Retardation.

29.  Functionality increases, and pain decreases, in direct proportion to the consistency with which we self-manage the conditions of our pain’s occurrence.

30.  Chronic pain patients do not need improved Quality of Life” but “more Quantity of Life.” The first is for terminal cancer patients, the second is for empowered pain patients.

31.  A pain-loser sees the difficulty in every opportunity; a pain-winner sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

32.  The only thing necessary for pain to become severe and unending is for the pain sufferer to either do nothing, or to do whatever they do inconsistently.

33.  Chronic pain can be both exhausting and depressing. The winner’s answer is:  “I’ll do what I have to, to start doing what’s normal for me… you take the antidepressant, doctor.”

34.  Losers chase magic bullets their whole life and achieve no long-term pain relief.  Winners change their lifestyle and bad habits the way they have to in 3 months and wind up enjoying manageable pain the rest of their lives.

35.  A chronic pain survivor is nothing without consistency and, as in everything else, the consistency is nothing without hard work.

36.  Never stay in bed if you’re in serious pain.  After 24 hrs, muscles will tell you, “You don’t want my services?  Bye, I’m taking a vacation, and I may never come back again.”

37.  Overheard at Workshop 1: “I don’t know why my anesthesiologist prescribed Dr. Adams’ pain program, but I’m pretty sure it’s not because he’s convinced drugs and injections are the answer.”

38.  A procrastinator is a device for turning manageable pain into irreversible pain.

39.  I’m in favor of keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of fools. Let’s start with keeping pain drugs out of the hands of those doctors who think they’re “magic bullets” so they can avoid making a referral to a pain specialist.

40.  Dr. Adams, Workshop 2: “Once you eliminate the contribution lifestyle, bad habits and chronic risk factors make to pain, what remains is ’eminently manageable.'”

41.  Comment from a workshop participant: “By taking Dr. Adams’ chronic pain program, I found it can be extremely empowering to try what I thought was impossible.”

42.  In America, the true measure of a great physician is how he treats someone with no health insurance.

43.  In American medicine today, the current approach to treating chronic pain is evidence that there is more stupidity than there is hydrogen in the universe.

44.  The Law of Failed Back Surgery: “Once is coincidence, twice is a pattern, three times means you’d better run because they’re trying to kill you.”

45.  To listen to your Body as you would a best friend is the first step towards experiencing less pain.

46.  Reassurance, encouragement and support – the fundamental tenets of clinical medicine – have nothing to do with the mechanisms of behavior-change that are needed to make chronic pain more tolerable.

47.  Overhead from a workshop participant:  “As a technique for dealing with people who are being a pain-in-the-neck about my pain, I’ve heard about changing the subject, but never just excusing myself to go to the toilet.” (Recommended in the workshops as the single best way to change the subject)

48.  If you gaze long enough into Pain, Pain will tell you what the conditions are of your pain’s occurrence and, changing those conditions, Pain will leave you alone to enjoy the Quantity of Life that you earned.

49.  Every CNCP patient learns basic ways to overcome their pain over time. Those who are more successful at keeping their pain at tolerable limits simply have a greater sense of commitment to their efforts.

50.  Obsessive-compulsive: a person more interested in being personally responsible for doing whatever reduces their pain than in talking about wanting others to be responsible for their pain.

51.  Will and consistency are guarantees of pain reduction.

52.  In the self-management of CNCP, the wise do a lot and talk little, while fools talk a lot and do little.

53.  The only clinician who can make valid statements about the treatment of CNCP is the one with the track record of effectively reversing it. All others are talking off the top of their head or protecting a fragile Ego. Seek out and stick with the first and run from the second.

54.  Beware! He who cannot tell you what CNCP is in words you can understand will likely have similar problems communicating with your pain.

55.  Dctors who don’t know CNCP are always “trying” this or that. If you hear, “Why don’t we try this,” get your sneakers on, politely thank the doctor for his efforts. and run out the hell out of his office. Chances are your pain will improve more from running than from returning to that “Why-don’t-we-try-this” doctor’s office.

56.  When non-pain doctors’ single-minded approaches to pain fail, a few lifestyle, habit and risk factor  changes  can go a long way to reducing pain.

57.  To transform serious pain to tolerable pain: 1) stabilize the pain or make a referral to a specialist who can; 2) get your patient into a qualified pain program that restores their ability to function, uses just-enough pain meds to enhance their rehab; 3) empower the patient – make them responsible for the conditions of their pain’s occurrence ; and, 4) make yourself useless as soon as possible.

58.  Overheard at a meeting of the Scripps Pain Committe: “The more excuses patients give about why they’re not starting the pain program, the lower their functionality, the more their use of pain meds, and the more frequent their use of medical services. And the more likely you will get sued or the patient will commit suicide.”

59.  Overheard between Dr. Adams and a non-pain doctor: “You’re too old to be trying to treat a chronic disorder alone. You should know by now what you need to do as part of a team to relieve chronic pain that doesn’t respond to conventional treatment.”

60.  Over 25 years ago, Dr. Norman Cousins, in his book Anatomy of an Illness, described how watching Marx Brother movies 3 times a day helped him overcome an illness diagnosed as fatal. Cousins made it a point to enjoy a hearty belly laugh every chance he got… and, his chronic disease remitted. Comments?

61.  Hope, purpose and determination are not merely mental states. They are translated into patterned behaviors that translate into brain circuitry that comes back as molecular events, which directly affect pain and every integrated system of which pain is a function.

62.  A brain – to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates – should be the delivery room for the birth of actions that relieve pain — a place where environment, action and physiology come together and relief becomes a reality.

63.  Action is like a piece of rope; it takes on meaning only in connection with all the things it holds together and that, over time, as it did 4.5 million years ago continue to give us relief from pain.

64.  Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us when we live in persistent pain and, particularly, that we permit be done to us by doctors who never had pain, never studied pain and never effectively created the conditions that reduced the suffering of our patients.

65.  For want of a consistent combination program for pain relief, a life was lost.

66.  “A routine, a routine, my kingdom for a routine of pain control that works.”

67.  Regular belly laughs – and the conditions of their occurrence – is the single best means of producing the world’s best pain killers… your own endorphins… and of keeping use of the synthetic stuff to its effective minimum. Don’t forget, your own painkillers produce no side effects, no liver damage and need to even think of lawyers.

68.  Pain is not the enemy; living in constant fear of it, and not living, is.

69.  Don’t defy the diagnosis; try to defy the excuses you’ll come up with to not do what you need to  dis-confirm it.

70.  If a smile comes to another person’s lips because of you, then you have created the conditions for less pain.

71.  Try to use the word “wonderful” in response to all the things that surround you, and your pain will become noticeably less.

72.  Is it possible that love, faith, laughter, confidence, consistency and a fighting spirit can reduce pain even though physicians can find “no objective findings” to confirm them? Of course it can!

73.  It is not necessary to go off on a tour of great cathedrals in order to find Deity. Look within. But, you have to be able to sit and let go a bit to be able to achieve that state.

74.  It makes little difference how many university courses or degrees a person may have.  If they cannot take positive steps to help someone who is in pain, all that education was for naught.

75.  Life is an adventure in forgiveness. Forgive yourself for the stupid things you did to subject your body to persistent pain. Now do the things you have to, to finally give your body the habits and lifestyle patterns it needs to enjoy less pain.

76.  Laughter may or may not activate endorphins, reduce blood pressure and enhance the immune system.  What is  clear, though, is that laughter is good medicine for pain. There are no adverse reactions, no long-term side effects and it’s the cheapest medication on the market. The more you laugh, the less the pain, the better you function and the greater the Quantity of Life you thought you had lost.

77.  Pain Mantra:  The more severe my pain, the more important it that I use all my resources – the right meds, awareness of the uniqueness of my pain and the conditions of its occurrence, my Anti-Inflammatory Way of Eating, and what are the right habits and lifestyle for me – and I will reduce the conditions of my pain’s occurrence.

78.  I became aware that to increase my ability to function and reduce my pain, I would have to be more than a passive recipient of care from a doctor with no specialty training in pain and no personal experience with chronic pain. My many excuses for not doing what I had to had to end or the pain would clearly end me. (Ankylosing spondylitis patient, Workshop 2)

79.  The assumption that the patient should take charge of their own pain management is the single most salient characteristic of pain survivors. It is the cornerstone of the best multidisciplinary treatment approach there is.

80.  Pain Patient Heal Thyself!

81.  Pain Patient Beware The Generalist Who Swears That Your Pain Will Get Better If You Will “Just Try This!”

82.  Pain patient; run rapidly from “Let’s Try This” doctors, for they know not what they do.

83.  The single best solution to ineffective medical care for your pain is in your feet. Run, Don’t Walk!

84.  Aqua-therapy patient: “88 to 92-degree water! Plus pushing against resistance. The closest thing to heaven!”

85.  Hate your pain. In fact, hate it so much that you feel driven to avoid all the conditions of its occurrence. Then you can again begin to have a Life.

86.  Do the Chronic Pain Diet consistently for 6 months; along with all the other consistent things you’re supposed to do. Then talk to me about pain, if a level 3 pain is really “pain” relative to what you had gotten used to.

87.  Keep a log of all the things you could NOT do before you started our program. It will help you appreciate better, 6 weeks into the program, how much better you’re really doing. And, that’s science rather than empty claims.

88.  Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food. (Hippocrates, Father of Medicine)

89.  No illness that can be treated by diet should be treated by any other means. (Moses Moimonides (12th Century physician)

90.  Unless the doctors of today become the nutritionists of tomorrow, the nutritionists of today will become the doctors of tomorrow. (Alexis Carrel, M.D. (1900)

91.  The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest the patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease. (Thomas Edison)

92.  There are no incurable diseases, only incurable people.  (Dr. John Christopher)

93.  Getting well is easy. It’s getting sick that takes years of dedicated hard work. (Dr. Richard Schultze)

94.  All truth goes through 3 stages. First it is ridiculed. Then it is violently opposed. Finally, it is accepted as self-evident fact. (Schopenhauer)

95.  If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. (Abraham Maslow)

96. Never mistake good intentions for effectively and quickly restored functionality.

97. If the person treating your pain is unable to deliver observable, measurable, objective results in 3 months, do not walk out of their office, RUN.

98. The devil is in the details in restoring functionality. The daunting task is in converting dime-a-dozen reassurance, advice and support into demonstrable, long-lasting control of the conditions of your pain’s occurrence.

99. Beware of Interventional Pain Management before its time. It’s a last rather than a first resort.

100.  Like it or not, the likelihood is that anyone with 5+ pain will have to take the right pain meds to kick-start their functionality restoration program. And the likelihood also is that the “right pain meds” will not be provided by someone who is not credentialed in pain management or pain medicine, and does not have extensive experience in actually restoring the functionality of chronic pain patients.

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