New pain center offers relief, therapy
By Tom Murphy, Rocky Mount Telegram

You don't have to live with it. If pain is an everyday occurrence - you're not alone.

Twenty percent doesn't seem like a large number at first glance.

Now, think of 20 percent of 6 billion people. That equals 1.2 billion people, or roughly how many worldwide live with some type of chronic pain. Chronic pain is a debilitating condition that significantly impacts the quality of life for many individuals.

Nash Regional Pain Center is offering another facet of care close to home. Those who have both chronic and acute pain can find treatment at the center at Nash Health Care Systems. The pain clinic was opened on a limited scale earlier this year at the Nash Urgent Care facility off Winstead Avenue. In August, the Nash Regional Pain Center was officially named and settled into its new home at the former Family Counseling Services office at 101 Nash Medical Arts Mall, behind Watson Eye Associates.

Dr. Christopher Godbout is a new medical staff member dedicated to full-time pain management. The Nash Regional Pain Center works in conjunction with the Bryant T. Aldridge Rehabilitation Center and Dr. Leonard John Tananis, the rehabilitation center's medical director and another addition to the medical staff at Nash Health Care Systems.

Dr. Eddie Roberts, an anesthesiologist on the Nash Health Care Systems medical staff, continues his work with the Nash Regional Pain Center.

Godbout and Tananis are physiatrists. Physicians in this specialty take a holistic approach to pain management and medicine, concentrating on the individual needs of each patient and tailoring plans which may include rehabilitation, nutrition, medication, stress management and procedures of injections to treat pain. Tananis focuses primarily on Bryant T. Aldridge Rehabilitation Center patients, but both doctors are able to cross over to provide care at the rehabilitation and pain centers.

Kenneth Lane, 37, of Wilson, wrecked his car five years ago. He's paralyzed from the waist down because of a spinal cord injury he received in the crash. He's lived with severe pain since the accident.

"I have a fractured spine," Wilson said, who initially traveled to Harvard University in Massachusetts for pain treatment.

"I wasn't sure that it would benefit me, and the trip was long," he said. "I believe I am getting better care here - and I don't have to fly to Boston, where I was accepted in Harvard's pain management program. I wanted relief from the pain, but I was looking more for quality of life. I've got two kids to raise. Anybody can give you pills for pain. Nash Regional Pain Center and Dr. Godbout have given me quality of life."

Wilson is able to drive his car and hopes to return to Wilson Technical College next semester to study computer technology.

"Dr. Godbout is more knowledgeable about my condition than my family doctor," Wilson said. "He's more knowledgeable about specifics, which definitely can make a difference. He just understands the person more than just the pain."

Nash Regional Pain Center treats a diverse group of patients, he said. People have a misconception about the treatment of pain, he said.

"A variety of people who suffer pain are either poorly treated or not treated at all," he said. "Pain is all encompassing - from head to toe. Everybody has pain, but not everybody's pain is the same. "

Godbout received his medical training at Wright State University's School of Medicine in Dayton, Ohio. He completed his residency training at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical College of Virginia in Richmond and Kettering Medical Center in Kettering, Ohio.

He has worked as a sports medicine team physician for Virginia Commonwealth University athletics, a college instructor and the house staff medical office at Richmond Community Hospital.

A lot of people Godbout treats have been disabled because of pain. The symptoms of chronic pain include mild to severe pain that does not go away; pain that may be described as shooting, burning or aching; discomfort, soreness, tightness or stiffness; or fatigue, sleeplessness, withdrawal from activity and increased need to rest.

Godbout said the problems of chronic pain are not limited to people who suffer. Its effects can be felt throughout many different facets of one's life, he said. A 1999 Michigan medical study on chronic pain revealed that: Chronic pain was responsible for 12 percent of the work force missing work in 1997. Forty-two percent of those who had chronic pain said it affected their relationships with family, and 48 percent had experienced depression.

"We take a more holistic perspective in each individual patient's case," Godbout said. "The pain center's success and increasing patient volume surely has exceeded everybody's expectations at Nash Health Care Systems. Bringing it to this community was surely needed. There is a large population of people out there that really need us because pain interferes with the entire quality of a person's life and with that person's well being."

Stress and pain can go hand in hand, Godbout said.

"Stress can result from financial problems, eating and sleep patterns and a multitude of other factors," he said. "It is our job to determine the source of the pain that is affecting a person's life. Pain can make you sad and anxious. It can become a vicious cycle. The key is to find the pain generator. Find what's causing it. You have to address each one - and often it's difficult. You can talk about taking all the pain away, but then a patient would end up on a couch drooling - and that's not quality of life."

The center treats about 400 patients - and the numbers are growing, Godbout said. On average, it receives about five new referrals a day.
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