8 Steps To Conquer Chronic Pain : A Doctor’s Guide To Lifelong Relief by Andrea Furlan
View book: 8 Steps To Conquer Chronic Pain : A Doctor’s Guide To Lifelong Relief
Looking for a comprehensive guide to conquer chronic pain? Look no further than 8 Steps to Conquer Chronic Pain: A Doctor’s Guide to Lifelong Relief. This book, authored by the renowned pain specialist Dr. Andrea Furlan, offers practical and solution-oriented advice to help you understand and effectively manage your chronic pain.
Featuring easy-to-understand graphics, diagrams, and concise summaries, this book provides attainable and evidence-based solutions to help you retrain your pain system. Moreover, it includes QR codes that allow you to access Dr. Furlan’s popular pain management videos, equipping you with the necessary tools to take control of your health and restore your ability to enjoy a fulfilling and happy life.
Get ready to overcome your chronic pain with 8 Steps to Conquer Chronic Pain: A Doctor’s Guide to Lifelong Relief.
“Conquer Chronic Pain: A Doctor’s Guide to Lifelong Relief”
Hi, I’m Dr. Greg Goins from the Reimagine Schools Podcast, a part of the Education Podcast Network. Just like the show you’re listening to right now, shows on the network are individually owned and opinions expressed may not reflect others. Find other interesting education podcasts at edupodcastnetwork.com.
Hey, welcome back! Steve here, and today I’m talking with Dr. Andrea Furland, MD, PhD. She’s the author of a book called “Eight Steps to Conquer Chronic Pain: A Doctor’s Guide to Lifelong Relief.” She studies and writes about addressing chronic pain. In this conversation, you’ll learn a lot about chronic pain and find some valuable insights to help you, your friends, your colleagues, and your family members. Good stuff. Thanks for listening!
By the way, before you go, it’d be so cool if you went to my website, stephenmolletto.com/reviews, and left a review. Maybe say something nice about the podcast or give me five stars. That’d be so cool. You are awesome. Enjoy the show!
The Education Podcast: Your Favorite Show on Teaching and Learning
Hey, Steve here. Welcome to another episode of Teaching Learning Leading K-12. Today, I have the pleasure of talking with Dr. Andrea Furland, MD, PhD. She is an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto and a staff physician and senior scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. Her research focuses on treatments of chronic pain, including medications, complementary and alternative therapies, and rehabilitation. Today, we’re going to be diving into her book, “Eight Steps to Conquer Chronic Pain: A Doctor’s Guide to Lifelong Relief.” Dr. Furland, thanks for joining me today!
Dr. Furland: Hello, Steve. Thank you very much for inviting me. It’s a great pleasure to be talking to you and your audience today.
Steve: Well, great to have you here. I gotta tell you, I think just about everybody has some sort of pain that they deal with, and this is an amazing book that you’ve created that helps people address or at least start paying attention to maybe doing the things they need to do in order to create some relief. So, very cool. So, let’s start with asking you this: what made you decide that you wanted to focus on why people feel pain and what to do about it? I mean, what made you go, “I want to do this?”
Dr. Furland: Treating people with pain is a passion of mine since I was in medical school. First of all, when I decided to become a physician, it was because I had suffered pain during my teenage years. I had very debilitating monthly menstrual cramps that every month I had to lose one or two or three days of activities that I enjoyed. Going to school, going to social gatherings, and it was so annoying. And then I decided to become a doctor. And then when I was in medical school and I had to decide which specialty to choose, I chose Physical Medicine Rehabilitation, also known as physiatry. It’s the physician of the person with a physical disability. And I call pain in chronic pain an invisible disability, and I want to help people to receive rehabilitation for chronic pain.
Steve: Awesome. Very cool. And, you know, there’s so many different ways that it appears, and it’s interesting…you know, your website really lays it out there too. It’s the imagery that’s there. And, you know, your book is titled “Eight Steps to Conquer Chronic Pain: A Doctor’s Guide to Lifelong Relief.” So, let’s start by talking about what chronic pain is and isn’t. Can you go there?
Dr. Furland: Yes. So, before I explain the eight steps in the book, I have a chapter where I explain what is pain. A lot of people feel pain. Almost 100% of the world population feels pain. There is a very rare genetic disorder that the person is born with the inability to perceive pain, and they die at an early age because they get injured, damage, or diseases, and they don’t feel it. So, pain is actually protective because it helps us detect danger. And so, 100% of the population will feel pain, and 20% will develop chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain as ongoing continuous pain that lasts at least three months. So, imagine having a pain that is ongoing, constant, day and night, 24 hours, and at least three months. This is chronic pain. Now, what is chronic pain, and why does pain become constant? I like to compare the pain system in our body to the alarm system that we have in our houses, because it’s the same thing. We are born with this pain system to detect danger. So, when you install an alarm system in your house, you detect danger. You install those sensors for smoke detectors, fire, burglars, breaking, flooding, the basement, right? And you want it to make noise when something is wrong. Now, if the system is functioning okay, it will be silent when there is no danger, and it will make noise when there is an intruder or a fire. Imagine now that this alarm system in the house is malfunctioning, and it’s going on all the time, and it’s making noise, and there is no fire, no burglar, nothing broken, and not only that, but the volume of the noise, the siren is extremely loud. That’s what chronic pain is. The pain system is malfunctioning. So, all chronic pains, they start with an acute pain. Acute pain means there was something broken, injured, damaged, or diseased, and that initial pain is healed. Now that problem is gone. Our body heals, because our bodies are amazing, they heal. But scars don’t hurt. But that acute pain caused a sensitization in the pain system. The pain system is going on, and the person feels pain. It’s a real pain. They’re not imagining it. It’s real pain, and that’s what chronic pain is. We need to fix the pain system. Gotcha. I appreciate you explaining that. You know, it’s interesting, because just a note: if you go to the doctor to do a checkup or whatever, usually at some point, they’re asking you how you’re feeling, and they’ll point to the smiley face or the frowny face, you know, which level of pain are you feeling? And, you know, it’s…I know that I’ve had a relative and a friend who have had that type of pain that just drives them insane, where it’s just constant. And, you know, it’s funny, a bunch of years ago, a long story, but I fell off a ladder, and I was standing on the height where there’s a little sticker that says, “Don’t stand here,” but I was standing on that. And I fell, and I never…I’d never broken anything, and I didn’t that day either, but it was really painful. And it was just… it led to something in that they had to repair my lower leg, and it was funny, because the doctor told me…he said, “Your leg’s always going to remember that we had to work on it down there.” And so, at weird times, you’ll have things pop up where suddenly it feels like a bug is crawling on it, or it’ll suddenly go, “Bang!” You know, “Hey, I don’t feel good.” And he said, “It’s just because it remembers things.” And, you know, every single pain that you had in your life, even the ones that you felt when you were a kid, they are a little memory in your brain. They’re there somewhere. And this is what we see sometimes in people in later life. If they have a very stressful event in their life, a traumatic event, a fear, it’s almost like those memories of pain are now becoming in their conscious mind. So, they kind of feel them again. And we know this because babies that are born premature, they suffer a lot of painful events in the neonatal intensive care unit. They stay many weeks in the intensive care unit to survive, right? Because they are premature, and they are poked, a lot of blood tests, and surgeries, and sometimes a lot of painful things that happen to them while they’re in the neonatal intensive care unit. Those people, when they become adults, they’re much more prone to have chronic pain. So, we know that if a person is exposed to a lot of acute injuries, especially when their nervous system is forming, all of those connections are being made later in life. They’re more prone, because now the pain system is…it imagines it’s like this alarm system of their house is more sensitized, and they are more…we know this…there are a lot of research showing that they have more chronic pain. Gotcha. That’s…you know, it’s just interesting how, you know, from time to time, we have different experiences with it. I mean, whether it’s actually, you know, having some sort of trauma that you experience or some sort of physical thing happened or something to repair, something also can rent its own thing. What is…is there some sort of…you know, what are some of the recent insights from research on pain? I mean, what are they talking about when it comes to this now? What’s some of the direction that people go in? Yeah, it’s fascinating that…think about the pain system that we have. This pain system in our body is a new discovery in medicine compared to the other systems. Probably the other systems in our body have been discovered 200, 300 years ago, so there’s a lot of years to do research on them and discover the diseases. Now, when I saw the list of systems that my kids brought to me and, of course, they asked me to help, I said, “Where’s the pain system? Why is the pain system not included in this list?” Because the pain system is everyone in the world needs to know about the pain system, but it was not there because the pain system is a new discovery. It was the first time that someone kind of started wondering that we have a pain system, this alarm system in our body, and this pain system can break or malfunction. It was in 1965. Actually, it was here in Canada, in Montreal, at McGill University that they described the gate control theory, which is one of the mechanisms that can explain the pain system in our body, and then people started investigating, doing research. So, we are talking about, you know, 50, 60 years of research. What is fascinating is that in the last 20, 30 years, all of this research, not all, but I would say most of the research has been focused on the brain, because we did not have good imaging studies of the brain before that. There was no way when you do an MRI of the brain, you only see a picture of a static picture, but you don’t see what’s working. What is where things are turned on and off. But now, with functional MRI, scientists can see what is turned on and off in the brain when you’re thinking about something, when you’re doing something. So, they can investigate brains of people with acute pain, chronic pain, different kinds of pain, treatments for pain. And it’s fascinating because the brain is the center of this alarm system, and it does a lot. It’s able to suppress completely pain, but it’s also able to generate pain. I could talk about this for hours here because it’s fascinating. This is the field where we are going in the future. Gotcha. That’s…you know, it’s just interesting…it’s like, uh… I can speak to that. So much so, because it’s, uh… You’re feeling miserable, and things aren’t working out right in the world. In my case, the world was just flipping on end and stuff. You know, and it was powerful being around people who know you, they know about you, and they try to figure out how to help you forget about it or move on and get through what needs to be done. So, so… so important. Um… One of the things you mentioned just a second ago, and I’ve got to make sure that we say this as we’re getting ready to finish up, but you talk about learning to talk with medical professionals. And you’ve touched on it a couple of times, and I’m just wondering if you, as we’re drawing to an end, if we could talk a little bit about how important that is to make sure that you learn how to say what’s going on. Yeah. It’s… I spent about an hour, an hour and a half with each patient, new patient. And…but I know a lot of doctors don’t have that luxury. They only have maybe 20, 30 minutes. And those patients, they come with a baggage of 10, 20 years of pain, and they want to tell everything that happened in those 20 years in 20 minutes. So, you need to help the doctor in that time. You need to give the right information, the precise information that will help your doctor to help you, because you probably have an agenda. You want to tell everything, but your doctor is there thinking, “What kind of pain does this person have? What would be the best treatment?” So, in my book, I talk about some tips on how to communicate your pain to your doctor. But, in summary, what your doctor is looking for is: tell me about what is the site of the pain. The site, the… You know, tell me where it hurts. And ideally, if you can have a body diagram, like just print from the internet, like a body diagram and paint, you know, mark in the body diagram, front and back, where is your pain. So, they say, “Doctor, this is the site of my pain. I have pain.” And then, you can… The other thing that the doctor will look at is the onset. When did this start? I use the Socrates letters. S-O-C-R-A-T-E-S. But, basically, the “S” is the site where it hurts. The “O” is the onset. When did it start? How did it start? Give me the characteristics of your pain. So, is it burning? Is it aching? Is it inflammatory? Is it hot? Because those words are very important for me to differentiate. So, when you’re telling me those letters, those words, I am thinking, “This is not-susceptive. This is neuropathic. This is not the plastic.” Or, “This is a mix.” So, in my head, I’m trying to classify what kind of pain you have. Tell me what makes this pain better or worse. Because if your pain gets better with ice, I know it’s more not-susceptive. If your pain gets better when you are more relaxed and you are on vacation, I know there’s more not the plastic. So, tell me what makes it better. What makes it worse? It tells me if it radiates. So, your pain starts in the head, but radiates to your shoulder and arm. That might be neuropathic. Maybe a nerve root. Tell me also the time of this pain. Is it worse in the middle of the night? In the morning? In the evening? And tell me again about… Give me a score. Are we talking here about how much do you feel the pain? Is it a one, two, three, four? Five, six, seven, eight, nine? Because that gives me a sense of how much you’re suffering from this pain. You may have a very severe condition, but if you’re telling me this pain is a two or three out of ten, that tells me, “Okay, you have a very severe condition, but you’re coping well because your brain is not suffering that much.” So, those are the tips that I tell my patients to explain pain to your doctor. Awesome. I greatly appreciate that, talking about it and giving us some thoughts and advice. You know, we’re getting ready to wrap up here, but, uh, Dr. Furland, before I go, if someone wanted to follow up and connect with you or learn more, where would you send them so they can find me on YouTube? I have a channel. It’s Dr. Andrea Furland. I also have a website. It’s Dr. Andrea Furland, just spell it out, D-O-C-T-O-R- -A-N-D-R-E-A- -F-O-R-L-A-N-D-.com. In there, in my website, I summarize everything. There’s a link where they can buy my book. There’s a link to my channel. And I have a lot of resources, handouts that people can download from my website. Awesome. And I will have links to those in my show notes. And, uh, and, uh, you know, whether it’s a website or YouTube channel, I spent some time there checking out the different stuff and the thoughts that you had and the good stuff. So, uh, Dr. Furland, thanks so much for talking with me today. “Eight Steps to Conquer Chronic Pain: A Doctor’s Guide to Lifelong Relief” is an excellent look at pain and what it is, looking at alternatives to surgery and medicines to help. What a timely book, what a much-needed book. Wishing you the best in all you do. Thank you very much, Steve. Hey, you have been listening to Teaching Learning Leading K-12, a podcast to help you help kids achieve their dreams. Teaching Learning Leading K-12 is a member of the Education Podcast Network, podcasts for educators, podcast by educators. Teaching Learning Leading K-12 is produced for educational purposes. Thanks so much for listening, and, uh, it…it would be awesome if you visited my website at stephenmolletto.com and connected with me, left a review, and listened to more episodes. And, by the way, you could also share it with your friends, with your family, and your colleagues. Thanks so much. You’re awesome.