“We’ve been treating pain all wrong. The solution doesn’t come in a bottle; it comes by educating and empowering yourself about what pain really is and then taking control of your health. Your pain is real and there is hope. There are simple, easy-to-implement strategies that can free you from pain and live the life you deserve.”
Joe Tatta, PT, DPT
How We Currently Treat Pain
An Overdose of Opioids
The Untied States of America consumes 80% of the world’s supply of opioids and is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Opioids may have a place for certain types of pain and can assist in the beginning phases of recovery. The model to follow regarding the prescribing of opioids should be “the lowest dose, for the shortest duration and combined with natural, integrative strategies to support physical and emotional healing.” Long-term administration of opioids is not a solution for chronic pain. Painkillers are often abused, create dependence and can be addictive. The public has a right to safe and natural means for healing pain that do not have side-effects or cause harm.
Imaging Abnormalities Poorly Correlate with Pain
An abnormal reading on an imaging study does not necessarily reveal the root cause of your pain. Instead, it may lead to expensive and unnecessary procedures that won’t result in better healing then less invasive approaches. Medical tests are useful to rule out disease or when there is an acute trauma. However, chronic pain is rarely something that can be viewed on an image. Many abnormalities detected with advanced imaging are so common in healthy, uninjured people that they could be viewed as normal signs of aging. Bones and joints show many “dings and dents” but this does not mean you are damaged. In a cross-sectional study in the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery 40% of healthy participates aged sixty or older showed degenerative changes in their spine but reported no pain! Each day we are discovering similar findings for all joints of the body, including the neck, shoulder, hip and knee. The concept of “wear and tear” can be replaced with movement is medicine. Bones and joints can with stand the sands of time just fine.
Surgery Is Not a Cure for Chronic Pain
Did you know that pain can persists even after a surgery such as a total knee replacement? The brain is still paying attention to the area even though the knee is “new.” Over imaging may lead one down the promise road of surgery as a quick fix. Many surgeries for chronic conditions such as spinal pain are no more effective (or less effective) than intervention like physical theory and pain education. Surgery only addresses the structural component and may be necessary in certain cases. Pain is multifactorial. The structure and function of a joint is but only one component of effective pain care.
How We Should Treat Pain
Pain is an experience, not a sensation. The definition of chronic pain is an “unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.” When pain persists beyond the usual healing time of three months it is considered chronic. In fact, pain can persistent even if there was no injury at all. A broad framework is required to understand both the biological and behavioral responses that occur when someone experiences pain. Chronic pain is a complex disease with the involvement of many systems in the body including the gastrointestinal, muscular, endocrine, immune and nervous systems. Furthermore, the pain experience is influenced by psychosocial factors that may create further “threat” to the nervous system and turn on pain as a harm alarm. The complexity of chronic pain requires an integrated approach for healing, not a single treatment. For more information integrated strategies to heal pain check out my book Heal Your Pain Now.
My mission is to create a new paradigm around treating persistent pain and reverse our global pain epidemic. Your pain is real no matter what you have been told and there is hope no matter what your condition. If your pain has persisted longer than expected and you have struggle with finding a solution, know there are natural ways to change both the body and brain in a positive way so that pain ceases to persist.
Dr. Joe Tatta is the founder of the Integrative Pain Science Institute and one of the pioneering experts in lifestyle interventions for treating persistent pain. A unique combination of physical therapist, nutritionist, and ACT trainer, he has 25 years of experience in physical therapy, integrative models of pain care, leadership and private practice innovation. He holds a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, is a Board-Certified Nutrition Specialist and has trained extensively in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Dr. Tatta is the Founder of the Integrative Pain Science Institute, a company dedicated to reinventing pain care through education, research, and professional training.
He is chair of the Physiotherapy SIG at the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, the parent organization of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. He also volunteers his time on the New York Physical Therapy Opioid Speakers Bureau and the New York Physical Therapy Association Opioid Alternative Task Force. In 2017 he was a key member of the APTA task force expanding nutrition as part of the scope of practice for physical therapists.
Learn more by visiting www.integrativepainscienceinstitute.com.