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Pain Management in Lockdown

Pain spe­cial­ists from around the world have reviewed ways in which peo­ple with chron­ic pain can con­tin­ue to be helped using mod­ern tech­nol­o­gy despite pain treat­ment cen­tre across the world hav­ing closed their doors. Pub­lish­ing their results in the med­ical jour­nal Pain, they point out that telemed­i­cine and e‑health, as remote med­i­cine is called, is not a new con­cept but the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic has made it ‘imper­a­tive’ that patients with chron­ic but non-urgent con­di­tions can access the sup­port they need. Patients with chron­ic pain will be adverse­ly affect­ed by the pan­dem­ic even if they do not become ill with Covid-19 as their health­care becomes dis­rupt­ed. This can lead to their con­di­tion wors­en­ing with accom­pa­ny­ing suf­fer­ing and depression.

Sim­ple solu­tions could involve noth­ing more than a phone call or text mes­sages. Video con­fer­enc­ing is now wide­ly accessed via apps such as Face­Time and Zoom. There are already sys­tems in place in some cen­tres for clin­i­cal eval­u­a­tion remote­ly. Self-man­age­ment options are avail­able online and many of these have been for­mer­ly eval­u­at­ed in clin­i­cal tri­als. They have shown at least some ben­e­fit in reduc­ing pain, dis­abil­i­ty and dis­tress. Com­mer­cial­ly avail­able options exist, but the authors warn that there is often no qual­i­ty con­trol over con­tent and the buy­er should beware. They also warn that because of the fast imple­men­ta­tion of these new meth­ods of con­sult­ing in response to the Covid-19 cri­sis there may be unfore­seen down­sides. How­ev­er, lessons will be learned and, after the pan­dem­ic, it is like­ly that many of these new ways will con­tin­ue to be used for peo­ple in pain who need help.

The full text of the paper is avail­able at journals.lww.com/pain/Citation/publishahead/Managing_patients_with_chronic_pain_during_the.98431.aspx

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