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Patients say IU Health Pain Management Rehabilitation changed their lives

Patients say IU Health Pain Management Rehabilitation changed their lives

They have gone from indescribable pain to relief and even comfort. Two patients talk about how they never thought they would live without discomfort until they learned about an IU Health program that focuses on a holistic approach to pain management.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, TJ Banes,

He’s lived with chronic pain for the past 11 years. Curt Gassman, 68 had visited several pain management doctors and endured procedures ranging from injections to simulators and still suffered agonizing pain.

That is until he learned about IU Health’s Pain Rehabilitation Program. The three-week intensive outpatient program focuses on a multidisciplinary approach to pain management. That includes incorporating psychotherapy, physical and occupational therapy, medication management, and complementary therapies including yoga, massage, and spiritual counseling.

Curt Gassman and wife in the garden

“The program is fun and set in a group environment. I met new people and made friends along the way,” said Gassman, whose pain started with a hip replacement at a different hospital. “It taught me skills like learning how to deal with the emotions and depression associated with chronic pain. I learned how to actively manage my pain through my behaviors and how to think about my pain in a more positive and accurate way,” he said. He also learned the importance of relaxation and the positive effects of mindfulness and meditation.

Amy Irwin, 50, also suffered years of chronic pain before taking part in IU Health’s pain management program.

“The class changed my life. I learned that patience, understanding, and a smile can completely change someone’s day and their general mood,” said Irwin, who has struggled with fibromyalgia, shoulder and hip pain for years. She credits a team of practitioners with helping her cope with her pain.

Amy Irwin

The goal of the program is to improve the patient’s quality of life and addresses conditions associated with pain such as depression, anxiety, addiction, and obesity.

“I’ve learned to stop looking at my pain as an enemy, to be grateful for good days, how to get more restful and restorative sleep, how to relax and let go, and how my family and friends are impacted by my pain,” said Irwin. “The biggest thing I can do now that I couldn’t before is roll over in bed without any pain and I’m sleeping through the night.” Since completing the program she has started going out more to concerts and parties - something she once avoided.

“Now I know to rest and reserve my energy so I can enjoy outings with friends and then replenish my energy afterward,” said Irwin.

Two years ago, Gassman had resigned himself to never stepping foot on an airplane again. He feared the pain would be too much for a trip to visit family. Now, he has been able to vacation with is brother in Florida. He also enjoys working with mosaics creating sports logos, and working in his garden.

“The biggest thing I learned from the program was how to talk to my spouse and relatives, and my doctors about my pain and help them understand,” said Gassman, who has been married for 44 years to Rebecca. They have one daughter and three grandchildren.

“The program taught me how to talk and communicate with doctors to be my own self advocate,” said Gassman. They also teach you how to talk to yourself - be positive with yourself and not so hard on yourself, that pain isn’t my fault and to be able to work through bad pain episodes with mindfulness and breathing techniques. We know that Opioids and pain meds are not the answer so this approach focuses on long term solutions.

To learn more about IU Health’s Pain Rehabilitation Program: call 317-963-6973 or email Clinic Manager, Brandon Griggs.

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