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Chronic pain is pain that continues beyond an acute episode. It is debilitating, often excruciating – affecting all areas of life. It is more than a symptom of a disease, illness or injury and becomes an illness itself.
Treatment for pain syndromes may include a combination of approaches, such as drug therapy, physical exercises and psychological treatment. Other techniques, such as nerve blocks (injections that prevent nerves from sending pain messages) or neurosurgery may also be used.
Many of our services are offered on an outpatient basis. Some of these services are provided at Toronto Western Hospital and others are offered through centres in the community. In more complex cases, patients may be admitted for a stay in hospital in our clinic.
After enduring surgery, chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer nearly four years ago, Patient A thought she finally had her life back when the treatment was done and the cancer was in remission. But a month later, she began experiencing gnawing, burning, torturous pain with intermittent spasms in her chest.
"Because no one could explain the pain I was experiencing, I began to think I was crazy," recalls Patient A. "Luckily, a physician-friend who was also a spinal cord injury patient suggested I should see Dr. Mailis, who knew right away that it was neuropathic pain resulting from my mastectomy surgery and radiation therapy that was causing my pain."
Neuropathic pain is a type of pain that results from injury or disease of the nerves, the spinal cord or the brain. The causes are many, including trauma to the spinal cord, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, AIDS, shingles, as well as breast cancer and cardiac bypass surgery.
Between 10 and 17 percent of Canadians experience chronic pain from a range of causes, including strokes, spine cord injuries, migraines, diabetes and other conditions and injuries. Pain can have an enormous impact on an individual's wellbeing, making it difficult to work or enjoy everyday activities.
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Learn more about chronic pain and the Comprehensive Pain Program.