Anne-Charlotte Sawatzky is the project manager for the Chronic Pain Project and Dr. Todd Loewen is a project lead. Paige Mueller/The Free Press

Chronic pain conference strives to support patients

There will be one public seminar taking place on February 27 at 3 p.m.

Chronic pain patients in the Elk Valley are being encouraged to attend an upcoming seminar in Fernie focusing on understanding and coping with pain.

Chronic Pain: Let’s Get Better is a conference organized by the Chronic Pain Project, a collaboration between various healthcare professionals in the Elk Valley. The project has four main objectives: to improve health provider education surrounding chronic pain, improve patient education, create a local support network and develop tools to improve access to resources for both patients and providers.

The conference, taking place February 26 and 27 at the Park Place Lodge, strives to fulfill at least two of those goals, improving education for providers and for patients. There will be three seminars as part of the conference, with two being focused toward physicians and other healthcare professionals and one being open to all members of the public.

The public seminar is called Overcome Pain, Live Well Again and will feature Neil Pearson, a physiotherapist, yoga therapist and clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia.

According to Anne-Charlotte Sawatzky, the project manager for the Chronic Pain Project, the seminar will help people to “understand that pain is complex, that individuals have abilities to influence pain and learn new pain care techniques.”

The main learning objectives of the public seminar include learning about the science of pain and pain care, understanding how the body and brain respond to pain and exploring new pain care techniques. The seminar will run from 3-5 p.m. on February 27 and everyone who might be interested is invited to join. Snacks and drinks will be provided, thanks to support from Teck.

The other seminars of the conference will help primary care providers learn and better serve chronic pain patients in the Elk Valley. Doctor Mandy Manak is an addiction and pain specialist and will give a presentation on pain management and how to safely prescribe opioid drugs for pain. Pearson will also give a second presentation to primary care providers about different pain management methods for them to use. In his workshop he’ll “focus on how to develop pain treatment plans and how to help patients to understand and implement them.”

Doctor Todd Loewen is one of the project leads with the Chronic Pain Project and said that he wants “everyone to go to the conference and learn and the more we have people getting together in this way, the better it is for everyone.”

He also noted that while there is lots to learn for both chronic pain patients and care providers at the conference, even hosting the event can be a beacon of hope and a message to those suffering from pain.

The message Loewen would like to make clear is that healthcare practitioners in Fernie are listening to chronic pain patients, recognize the need for change, and are taking steps to improve care.

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