Public Health Talk at Abbott: Chronic Pain Management

Abbott talkIt was an enriching experience to be involved in a public health talk regarding the topic of ‘chronic pain management’. The Sole Clinic was invited to present a talk to Abbott employees during a lunch-time presentation on 27th January 2016. Having prior experiences presenting a similar topic in a multi-disciplinary Pain Forum and hospital clinical inservices before, I was challenged to present this difficult topic to a wider audience this time round.

Given 1 hour, it was a challenge to include only the important things, add in practical clinical scenarios and engage this audience of 30.

I started with an eight minute TED talk, ‘Mystery of Chronic Pain’ by Dr Elliot Krane, a paediatric anesthesiologist to give an overview of why chronic pain is different from acute pain with nice clips to show how the body’s ‘alarm system’ gets ‘reassigned’ to react more easily to stimuli.

Following on, I discussed the role of pain as a warning system in the human body, the existence of people who die young because they cannot feel pain. The experience of pain and the different dimensions of pain: sensory and emotional aspects of pain.

  • The difference between acute pain and chronic pain, with chronic pain not just acute pain that doesn’t go away, but a disease of the nervous system.
  • Real-life examples of how different factors can affect the sensory and emotional dimensions of pain.
  • Factors that are associated with chronic pain, like anxiety, sleep, chronic stress, lack of physical activity.
  • The importance of ruling out serious medical conditions before given the diagnosis of chronic pain
  • What we can do about chronic pain, and perhaps ways of preventing chronic pain by understanding pain and adopting a healthy lifestyle.


A question that was asked during the talk:

Does recurrent musculoskeletal pain mean chronic pain?

A very good question, perhaps most people who are knowledgeable in this topic will have difficulty answering this question, as there are too many factors that can be associated with recurrent pain after musculoskeletal injury. Usually, this requires more understanding of the background of the pain disorder to answer this question.

These are two hypotheses that I can make that requires more questioning:

  1. Insufficient rehabilitation that cause weakness of the musculoskeletal system that predisposes one to recurrent nociceptive strains? (not chronic pain)
  2. The permanent enhanced sensitivity of the nervous system with chronic pain (central sensitization), so low strains that usually does not cause hurt, do so now? (chronic pain)

Therefore, this question was left unanswered but the person was advised to seek professional help.

All these in one hour! The best thing is, we got engaged again to speak to another department within the same organization on this same topic!

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