The Hardest Pill to Swallow


Dr. Tracy Jackson discusses chronic pain in her May 2016 TEDx Nashville event. Dr. Jackson, a Vanderbilt physician, researches and works in the chronic pain management field, and she discusses how and why the healthcare system’s current approach to chronic pain management is failing patients–and society as a whole–in her TEDx talk.

Why does this matter? For healthcare providers, particularly those in the southern part of the United States, the prescribing of controlled substances for the management of chronic pain has become a hotly debated and highly regulated activity. For the protection of one’s license, and the safety of one’s patients, it is incumbent on healthcare providers to educate themselves on the most effective and safe ways to treat chronic pain.

For those who aren’t healthcare providers? It still matters. Opioid overdose is the number one cause of accidental death in the U.S. (See, Tedx Talk, 8:10). Let that sink in for a minute. Even if pain management and the use of opioids does not affect you professionally as a health care provider, it likely has or will affect you or someone you love personally. It is incumbent upon all of us to be aware of what we are putting in our bodies, and how it effects us.

Main Take Aways From ‘The Hardest Pill to Swallow:’

  1. Chronic Pain is the # 1 presenting complaint to U.S. doctors, the #1 reason people are out of work, and it costs the U.S. economy up to $630 billion dollars a year. It’s a big deal, for the individuals suffering from it, and for our U.S. economy as a whole. (See 1:20).
  2. Kids often get tummy aches when they are stressed or trying to avoid a stressful situation–right?

    “Kids describe a physical symptom based on an emotional issue, yet as adults we continue to deny that pain from mental stress can manifest as pain in the body. When did we forget the tummy ache?”

    (See 5:02).

  3. Pain pathways, sleep pathways, and mood pathways are all interconnected–we cannot separate them. If one goes awry, all pathways will be effected. (See 5:45).
  4. The hardest pill to swallow is that there is no quick fix–but there is a fix. (See 15:00).
  5. Each of us can make a difference by admitting that stress and lifestyle choices can contribute to and even cause chronic pain at any age. We can hold ourselves and our loved ones accountable to seeking real and durable relief, even when a pill is available on every corner. (See 17:10).

Take 18 minutes out of your day to watch Dr. Jackson’s TEDx Talk–I promise, it’s well worth your time. Feel free to comment below with any thoughts or responses, and as always, feel free to reach out to me directly–[email protected]