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Pain management specialist Dr. Brian Siegel and licensed acupuncturist Kelley McDaneld will present a free "Taking Care of Me" program explaining pain management techniques May 12. Their talk will begin at 6 p.m. in Yampa Valley Medical Center's Conference Room 1.
If you have been a hospital patient during the past decade, you are familiar with the question: "On a scale of one to 10, how would you rate your pain?" Recognition and assessment of pain has become a national standard of care.
Pain is the main complaint in any hospital's emergency department, involving 50 to 80 percent of all visits. It also is the most common reason that people go to physicians. Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.
"Untreated or under-managed pain takes a high economic toll when measured in the cost of medical care and days lost from work," Steamboat Springs pain medicine specialist Brian Siegel, M.D., said. "People who suffer from pain also have a reduced quality of life.
"Especially in these difficult economic times, we need to do a better job of identifying and treating people for pain."
Siegel has been the medical director of Yampa Valley Medical Center's Pain Management Program since its inception in 2000. He is board-certified in anesthesia and pain medicine.
"There are two basic types of pain," he said. "Acute pain is often felt due to injury or illness or after surgery. If it is not addressed right away or treated properly, it can lead to chronic pain."
Chronic pain generally is more difficult to treat.
"You can't see, touch or hear pain, and that is a big barrier to treatment," Siegel said. "Pain is a perception and can be defined as 'an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.' There is often a psychological, as well as a physical aspect to pain."
Siegel uses a variety of techniques and modalities to treat chronic pain.
"There are people who have one intervention and it succeeds and no more pain management is needed," Siegel said. "People can and do get better. But pain is complicated, and it doesn't always respond to just one type of treatment."
YVMC's Pain Management program offers acupuncture and Chinese herbs, as well as more-traditional Western medicine. Licensed acupuncturist Kelley McDaneld, L.A.c., Dipl.OM., explains how acupuncture relieves pain.
"Acupuncture can facilitate tissue healing by promoting blood flow to the affected area," McDaneld said. "It also stimulates the release of endorphins, which are the body's natural pain-killers."
McDaneld estimates that 75 percent of patients who come to see her have back pain. Other common complaints that can be successfully treated by Chinese medicine include neck pain, tendonitis of the elbow, headaches - including migraines - shoulder pain and fibromyalgia.
Siegel said the Pain Management program is individualized and dedicated to education. It includes medication, injections and other treatment modalities.
"We try to help the patient understand why they hurt and what we can do about it," he said. "I explain procedures and give treatment options. That is what is so nice about our program at this hospital - I have the time to talk to patients. We're not like some high-volume pain centers where patients might not even meet the doctor."
Siegel's goal is to reduce or eliminate pain when possible and increase the patient's ability to function physically.
"We can't always cure pain, but we can have a positive affect on the indirect costs of pain," he said. "When we help people function at a higher level, they can be productive at work and have a better quality of life."
Christine McKelvie is public relations director at Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at email@example.com.