Today many people with chronic pain are staying at home, practicing social distancing and wearing masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus. This was and continues to be the best option.
But after weeks of isolation, individuals with chronic pain are feeling “isolated” in more way than one. While they have manged to maintain some level of normality but now without regular exercise, hydrotherapy, physiotherapy sessions and in some cases missing the opportunity to attend the hospital for a pain procedures the level of anxiety, loneliness and pain intensity is increasing.
Just recently, Pain News Network, the International Pain Foundation and the Chronic Pain Association of Canada conducted an online survey with 2,221 people with chronic pain or chronic illness and the vast majority of respondents from the United States or Canada.
One of the biggest worries of respondents is having a health problem and needing to go to a hospital or doctor’s office, where they risk exposure to people who may be infected with COVID-19. As a result, over 70 percent say they have cancelled or postponed a medical appointment. About the same number are using telehealth to connect with their providers remotely.
In fact Dr. Dominic Hegarty (Clinical Director at Pain Relief Ireland) says these are the same type of issues Irish patients with chronic pain are experiencing. He says that “the feedback from our initial Teleclinics we hosted for our clients was so positive we are expanding this to try and reach out to more individuals on a daily basis”. With the phased return to “normal” going to take weeks and the impact likely to extend into months we need to recognise how to assist individuals.
We also have to take into account that while many individuals are well, many individuals with chronic pain have other medical condition or may be over 70 years which may put them at greater risk of infection and we need to try and minimise this while providing support and treatment.
“Once it becomes safe to have individuals back into the hospital we will do everything we can to offer treatments to those who need them promptly” says Dr. Hegarty.
For now Dr. Hegarty and the team at Pain Relief Ireland are here to listen, support and help medical manage your symptoms in order to get you through this difficult time.