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