BOSTON (CBS) – Chronic pain affects the mind, body and soul. As a result, doctors are treating their patients in a myriad of ways.
If you suffer from chronic pain, popping a pill isn't the answer. Dr. Joshua Wootton is the Director of Pain Psychology at the Arnold Warfield Pain Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where patients learn mind-body techniques.
"By the time pain has become chronic it's actually made changes in the structures of the brain, changes in the biochemistry that these techniques actually over time can compensate for," Wootton said.
Meditation, Tai Chi and Qigong are just some of those techniques being used.
Laura Kiesel's had luck with massage and acupuncture, but it's a drain on her wallet:
"A lot of these things cost extra, they're not covered by insurance. So that's a challenge," said Kiesel.
Physicians are feeling a pinch, too. Wootton says these days doctors just don't get enough "face time" with their patients.
"At a time when patients need to tell their story, need to feel that their pain is well understood before they can move forward, we are cutting them off at the knees," Wootton said.
Wootton adds that a patient's success depends on their relationship with their medical team.
But both patients and providers are at the mercy of the health care system.
"We try to schedule patients for as regular appointments as we possibly but we're working uphill in this medical environment unfortunately," he said.
Doctors need a lot of time to discuss the use of opioids with people who've failed to respond to any other treatment.
"These are very dangerous medications. Patients need to commit to a good careful monitoring system, and the physicians need to commit to it, too," said Wootton.
Several people who've been taking opioids for years spoke to WBZ NewsRadio 1030.
Susan, who's unable to work as a nurse due to crippling back pain, says she's practically had to jump through hoops lately to get her medication.
"We're like the hot potato," she said. "Nobody wants to take care of the pain patients. They don't want the liability of prescribing to us."
Coming up in part nine, learn about misconceptions associated with chronic pain.
Listen: Part 8 - Challenges – Stories Of Struggle And Hope
for more features.