Clinic consultation

The North’s first private pain clinic is now open in Sudbury

Services not covered by OHIP, but some benefit plans may provide coverage

Pain is such a part of the human condition that people write jokes about it. They write books and even movies about it. The number of songs that talk about pain is off the charts.

But unfortunately, chronic pain is nothing special.

In Sudbury, members of the medical community responded to growing demand and established Northern Ontario’s first private pain clinic.

Path of Pain North is the new clinic at 1536 boulevard Lasalle which opened its doors on Tuesday morning.

Kim Brouzes, a certified athletic therapist in Sudbury, teamed up with physician Dr. Dennis Reich to open the new clinic in response to what Brouzes said was demand for a facility to help people manage their pain.

“Well, we’re hoping to target the patient with functional pain, which is someone who’s trying to go to work, raise a family, get to hockey practice, but who doesn’t doesn’t sleep well or doesn’t function well. And we hope to fill that void to make everyone’s life a little better.”

Reich said there are so many types of pain people suffer from; some of them involve old injuries, others weight issues, and some types of pain are the result of mental health issues. He said modern pain management requires a multidisciplinary approach and a comprehensive assessment to find out what things in your life are influencing this chronic pain.

“So chronic pain is a huge problem across Canada, it’s a huge problem globally. Many people think they just have to live with it. And sometimes, you know, you have underlying depression. What I’m trying to say is that sometimes these kinds of things have to be dealt with,” Reich said.

“There’s no perfect solution, but we’re basically trying to do what we can for the North because we’re really limited in what’s on offer here.”

One of the realities of a private clinic is that its services are not covered by OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan). Pain management services are offered by physicians and at Horizon Health North (on doctor’s recommendation) but there is often a waiting list.

Additionally, while some common procedures may be covered by OHIP, Reich said patients will generally need to be covered by private insurance or a private payment method. In many cases, he said, employee benefits provide coverage for private services.

Brouzes said that in some cases where other pain management procedures haven’t worked for a patient, some employers may choose to have their workers treated at a private clinic.

Brouzes said there’s more to treatment than just showing up, getting procedures or advice, and being sent your way.

“Well, we have a multidisciplinary approach. So on the first day you would come and we would do what’s called a musculoskeletal and neurological exam. And we also have your doctors’ records and all the things that people have tried, right??” Brouzes explained.

She said this could be followed by consultations with a nutritionist, or a counsellor, interviews with the patient to find out more about their daily life; all of this to help create a patient profile and to help choose a care plan.

“So we need to understand the whole person and what their world is like, you know, on a day-to-day basis, so that we can give them whatever we can to help them,” Brouzes said.

Another issue with pain management is that some medications can be addictive. Reich said concern about opioids is a valid concern and there are ways to deal with it.

“And so one of the things that we’re going to do in our program is really to offer fairly sophisticated genetic testing to identify the likelihood that you actually become addicted. Or that you potentially derive no benefit from certain drugs.” , said Reich.

He said it can happen quite easily when a person has an injury or surgery and a person is given opioids to deal with the pain and then develops an addiction.

“What if we could flag these people ahead of time and have it so we know you’re likely to become addicted or have problems with this drug?” Reich asked.

He said these procedures now exist and will be offered as part of the program.

Another option patients can explore is the idea of use cannabinoidsa derivative of the cannabis plant.

“Cannabinoids are booming and an important part of the future of healthcare,” Reich said. “They’ve been seen for too long as something that should be avoided, only because we haven’t really understood it.”

He said that as medical science advances, more will be learned about the effectiveness of cannabis for pain management.

“But now we’re going to start hearing about these drugs that are being prescribed, okay. And actually having a use, but these studies need to be done. We just have to identify them. And we’ll be working with cannabinoids in the part of our regime.” “, said Reich.

Reich and Brouzes said that one of the things they were happiest about when they opened their new clinic was having several well-known Sudbury doctors and health care specialists stepping in and stepping forward to work with them to provide pain management solutions.

Len Gillis covers health care and mining for Sudbury.com.