Dealing with chronic pain

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Dr. Nadezda Djurovic

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Pain can be classified as either acute or chronic.

Acute pain is often the result of surgery or a trauma, such as a fracture, and can last up to three months. Pain medication effectively manages acute pain over a short time. When pain endures for three months to a year, it is considered to be chronic. Chronic pain can be complex.

Dr. Nadezda Djurovic’s specialty is to help patients live with chronic pain effectively

Chronic pain is often caused by a medical condition that may never go away completely, such as fibromyalgia, cystitis, or arthritis. The first step toward living with it is to accept that it will likely be a constant presence.

“Patients must also understand the medical condition that is causing the pain,” said Dr. Djurovic, an internal medicine physician with Methodist Hospitals’ Methodist Physician Group. “Patients must first understand what’s going on in their body to manage these conditions and gain some control.”

Mind-body medicine

Developing a good, trusting relationship with a doctor is a must. A doctor who knows and understands a patient can provide needed guidance, and not merely prescribe pain medication. Managing chronic pain involves much more than medication. The solution often lies within the patients themselves, and is attainable through mind-body medicine.

Mind-body medicine has existed for centuries. Over the past 50 years, scientists have proven its effectiveness.

“It is the most effective approach for treating patients with chronic pain,” Dr. Djurovic said. “The body is not just a pedestal for the head. Whatever happens in the mind will happen in the body.”

Establishing mind-body awareness in patients is an involved, time-consuming process. For this reason, Dr. Djurovic leads group sessions, held for 90 minutes each week, over eight weeks.

In these sessions, she prompts the patients’ memories of when they were doing well. Dr. Djurovic also incorporates elements such as relaxation response, nutrition, sleep, exercise, positive thinking and spirituality.

Stress factor

To effectively function with pain, patients must also be aware of their response to stress and how long they allow it to persist.

“It’s a vicious circle,” Dr. Djurovic said. “Pain can cause stress and stress can cause pain. Ideally, the body’s response to stress is a short cycle followed by the return to a normal state. Otherwise, the person will manage everything in his or her life, large or small, through a stress response.”

When a body is continually under stress, it changes the balance of the mind and the chemicals in the body. Pain will continue to grow and other conditions such as chronic fatigue, hypertension and obesity may develop on top of the initial illness.

From the beginning of treatment, the goal is to improve the function of the patient. By harnessing the power of our thoughts and emotions, you can achieve the best possible outcomes in living with chronic pain.

Dr. Djurovic is currently forming new Mind-Body Awareness Groups to begin in January. For more information, or to register, call (888) 909-3627.

Provided by Methodist Hospitals