Message from the director

At one of the world's first pain units, managing pain is our daily business at McGill’s Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit at the Montreal General Hospital. The patients who come to us suffer from musculoskeletal pain, pain from cancer or trauma, neuropathic pain— and often, their conditions have no name. “People hate it. They come to me and say, ‘I want to know what I have.’ So I say, ‘You have a disease. It’s called chronic pain.’”

The Pain Management Unit is an innovative example of the multidisciplinary approach to pain treatment, calling on a team of 25 physicians, physiotherapists, psychologists, nurses and other specialists. Staff work as a group helping people manage their pain through a wide range of approaches, from physiotherapy and medication to group therapy as well as complementary and alternative medicine.The unit operates beyond its capacity and has been able to reduce the waiting list to five months on average. It’s a testament to the growing problem of chronic pain in an aging population says Shir, “as a rule, physicians do not know how to treat pain.”

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