Worldwide, studies conducted over the last three decades consistently show that chronic pain affects approximately one third of the population 1-6 with staggering costs to the individual patient and to society. These figures will probably increase with the ageing population and improved survival rates for formerly lethal conditions such as cancer. Pain management, especially in chronic pain, should therefore be an integral part of most of the MUHC’s medical activities, regardless of specialty, and should not be viewed as just another service. In truth, a modern academic health centre will not be able to regard itself as world-class without addressing its pain patients, both in-house and in the community.
The Pain Program has already positioned the MUHC and McGill University at the forefront of the field of pain research and management, internationally. This recognition has been achieved through excellence and innovation in clinical care, pain education, research and community collaborations.
Clinically, we have developed and maintained innovative pain management models among multiple disciplines within the MUHC and in the community. In an era where hospital-based multidisciplinary pain service integration is on the decline, despite strong evidence that this is the most effective pain management modality, we have been able not only to maintain our services, but to expand and enhance our collaborations with key programs. Prioritizing services such as cancer pain, neuromodulation and other invasive interventions, fibromyalgia and pain in the community has resulted in an exceptional MUHC Pain Program.
Beyond providing clinical expertise, however, the Pain Program promotes pain education as one of its highest priorities, not only at McGill and the MUHC but in the community, nationally and internationally.
Finally, in the field of pain research, Pain Program staff members continue to undertake innovative studies and initiatives which will enhance current pain treatments, develop new pain management approaches and permit us, for the first time, to scientifically assess the long-term effectiveness of our interventions. The Pain Program is also fortunate to enjoy a close and fruitful collaboration with one of the best groups of pain scientists in the world at McGill’s Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain.
All these activities would not have been positive without the unrestricted and generous support of Mr. Alan Edwards who created the Louise and Alan Edwards Foundation, a voluntary organization dedicated to the promotion of MUHC pain medicine in the clinical, educational and research domains to the highest levels.
The MUHC Pain Program has already established itself as a leader in the field of pain management. This has been accomplished utilizing limited manpower, equipment, space and financial resources. Our projected future needs are not excessive and mainly include institutional support for manpower recruitment in several disciplines and increased space allocation, suitable for clinical, research and educational endeavors. This will permit us to capitalize on the foundation of excellence that has already been laid.