A major change in the financial incentives for care of Psychophysiologic Disorders (PPD) has just occurred in the United States (1). The case for integrating both medical and mental health care into primary care has always been compelling. Now, in 2017, the U.S. Medicare/Medicaid system has decided it will pay for a form of care that is strongly aligned with this concept (more on that below).
A paper published in 2014 (1) is getting a lot of attention now because of the following conclusions (italics mine): Read the rest of this entry »
Prescription opiate medication for chronic pain is a treatment whose time is ending. To quote Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), for most pain patients the benefits of opiate painkillers are “unproven and transient” and they can be “just as addictive as heroin.” In addition, annually since 1999, ten thousand people have died from overdoses of prescription painkillers. The pain management community has concluded that, apart from people with cancer pain or those at the end of life, opiate painkillers have become a public health crisis. The CDC now recommends against using them for most non-cancer patients.
Acceptance by the health care profession that Psychophysiologic Disorders (PPD) can be successfully diagnosed and treated will depend on completion of at least two randomized controlled trials (RCT). The RCT is the gold standard method for documenting that a new form of treatment is superior to a placebo. Only when a treatment passes this test and that passing is then confirmed by at least one additional RCT will clinicians consider making the effort to apply it to their patients.
Causes of psychophysiologic disorder (PPD) symptoms are so diverse that even after assessing thousands of patients I still encounter new variations. Earlier this year a 65 year old retired nurse practitioner from Oregon whom I have worked with in the past contacted me because of months of abdominal pain. She suspected PPD because medical evaluation was unrevealing and her symptoms fluctuated for no obvious reason.
Among physicians with a humanistic soul, perhaps no quotation is more fondly remembered than one from Dr Francis Peabody. He was born in 1881 to a prominent New England family, trained at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital and was the first director of the Thorndike Laboratory at Boston City Hospital. Tragically, he died of sarcoma at age 46.
Recent on-line and in-person discussions with my colleagues who care for patients with Psychophysiologic Disorders (PPD) make it clear that there are many successful approaches to diagnosis and treatment. What these techniques have in common is clarifying for patients that psychosocial stress can cause real pain and/or other physical symptoms and that uncovering and treating these issues can relieve the illness (partially or completely). Our discussion led me to summarize my approach: Read the rest of this entry »
A study of the brain (published on-line Jan 2015) has uncovered an important difference in the processing of pain signals between people with fibromyalgia (FM) and those without FM.(1) Participants with FM had brain imaging with functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) while a blood pressure cuff on their leg created pain at a level (determined by each person) of 40 out of 100.
Psychophysiologic Disorders (PPD) consist of pain or other physical symptoms that are partly or completely relieved when underlying psychosocial issues are uncovered and treated. The process that produces this form of illness is an area of active investigation.
A colleague asked how I would screen for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in primary care patients with unexplained illness, chronic pain or functional syndromes such as irritable bowel or fibromyalgia. (A blog of mine describing ACEs is here with an important web site here). Here is my answer: