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Treating Chronic Pain…Who you gonna call?

As family physicians we really do see everything when it comes to our patients.  From prenatal to palliative care, our patients trust that we will help them through all their medical complexities.  In turn, we put pressure on ourselves and our teams to meet their expectations.

A couple of months ago my colleague, the shared care psychiatrist who travels to Pincher Creek to see patients with us, told me that the hardest thing he sees family doctors deal with is chronic pain.  Initially this comment surprised me, but on further reflection, and a review of my next day’s patient list I realized he was absolutely correct.

The increase of opioid use disorder in my practice, the lack of supports for alternatives to medication for pain relief in my area and the new guidelines for pain management and opioid use have led to increased stress and frustration for patients, families, and health care providers.

Like most family doctors, I have relied on my “go to” people to consult with when my patients and I are struggling to manage chronic pain or addiction, including opioid use disorder.  These relationships have helped me to build my capacity to manage increasingly complex issues.

I’m pleased to be the Medical Director for the ACFP’s new Collaborative Mentorship Network for Chronic Pain and Addiction which aims to provide the infrastructure for a more formal mentorship relationship so that all family physicians can feel confident in treating their patients with pain and addiction.

About the Author

Cathy Scrimshaw, BSc (Hons), MD, CCFP, FCFP

Cathy is a fulltime family doctor in Pincher Creek, where she has been doing comprehensive care for over 25 years.  She works with members of the Piikani First Nation and the residents of Pincher Creek.  Last year Cathy was recognized for her continued active involvement in the work of the ACFP by receiving the ACFP Long -term Service Award.  Currently, Cathy is the Medical Director for the Collaborative Mentorship Networks for Chronic Pain and Addiction initiated by Primary Health Care Opioid Response Initiative.

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