The Pain Chronicles

by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP candidate, PREP-AIRED moderator and administrator, Tufts University School of Medicine

One in 10 people in the United States identifies themselves as having chronic pain.  Over $90 billion is spent annually in the United States on the associated costs of chronic pain, including disability, medical costs, and loss in productivity.  The global impact of chronic pain is immense. Yet treatment of chronic pain remains as elusive to our modern medical treatment methods as it did to the ancient Greeks.  In The Pain Chronicles: Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing and the Science of Suffering, author Melanie Thernstrom masterfully weaves her personal pain narrative into a rich tapestry of the science, history, culture and ethical underpinnings of the study of pain.  The PREP program’s director, Dr. Daniel Carr, lends a pivotal voice in Ms. Ternstrom’s understanding of the challenges of pain medicine, along with other pain medicine luminaries such as Dr. Scott Fishman and Dr. Clifford Woolf.  What makes The Pain Chronicles so compelling  are the multiple layers of inquiry that unfold throughout the book, often challenging the reader to ask more questions than find answers on the nature of pain and suffering.  Ms. Thernstrom’s use of the patient voice from the perspectives of authors such as Elaine Scarry (The Body in Pain) and Arthur Frank (At the Will of the Body) help to  illustrate the complex interaction between pain perception and suffering.   The Pain Chronicles allows a deeper understanding of  the disease of pain, and should be “required reading” for both patients and health practitioners for whom chronic pain plays a role in their lives.

The Tufts Pain Education and Policy Program, with assistance from the Tufts University Public Health and Professional Degree Student Activity Fund, is pleased to be hosting author Melanie Thernstrom on Tuesday, April 12 at 4:00 PM in the Wolff Auditorium at Tufts Medical Center.  The event is free and open to the public.  Signed copies of The Pain Chronicles will be available.  Please join us!

Here is a link to Melanie Thernstrom’s lecture on April 12:

1 comment  Tagged:  , , , , , , , , , , , April 11, 2011

Top 4 Reasons to Return to Tufts

by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP candidate, PREP-AIRED moderator and administrator, Tufts University School of Medicine

The Pain Research, Education and Policy Program(PREP) is the first and only multidisciplinary university-based pain curriculum program in the nation.  There are numerous reasons to become part of the PREP program: small class sizes, diverse student backgrounds, and expert faculty are a few of the unique qualities of the program.  What also sets the PREP program apart is the continued connection with PREP alumni, who are are welcomed and encouraged to remain an integral part of the PREP program.  

Here are 4 top reasons for PREP Alumni to return to Tufts:

#4 Meet world renowned speakers and authors:

Please join us to hear two prominent pain experts lecturing in April.  Melanie Thernstrom will be speaking about her acclaimed book, The Pain Chronicles on April 12, 2011 at 4pm in the Wolff Auditorium at Tufts Medical Center. 

Dr. Rollin (Mac) Gallagher of the University of Pennsylvania and the VA Administration will describe recent efforts to alleviate pain and suffering beginning in the battlefield and extending through rehabilitation.  He will be speaking in the Wolff Auditorium at Tufts Medical Center at 4pm.  The date of his lecture is April 21, 2011.

#3 Network with New Alumni 

Come and hear our graduating MS student capstone presentations on Monday, May 2 from 3:30pm to 5:00pm in Conference Room 1, M&V Building.   We would love your support and networking with our hard-working graduates. 

#2 Enroll in a Tufts course and save 75% 

Did you know that all alumni from the Public Health and Professional Degree programs are able to enroll in a maximum of three courses in PHPD (one per year) at a 75% savings???  Yes, you can take that elective that you always wanted to and spend only 25% on that course!  Contact Lauren Budd, Assistant Registrar at  for more information.

#1 Expand your world by connecting with PREP’s social media sites

In addition to PREP-AIRED, the PREP program’s widely read blog, the PREP program now has its own Facebook page.  Join the community of current students, policy makers, leaders in the pain conversation and alumni by “liking” our page.  Here is the link:!/pages/PREP-Pain-Research-Education-and-Policy-Graduate-Program-Tufts/198047410219415

What are your top reasons for returning to Tufts?

Add comment  Tagged:  , , , , , , , , , , , , , , April 6, 2011

Chronic Pain: Focus of Time Magazine and Sackler Lecture

by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP graduate student, PREP-AIRED blog moderator and administrator, Tufts University School of Medicine

Chronic pain is elusive, often impossible to visualize or describe, and a continuing challenge for patients and health care providers alike.  The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 76.5 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, an all encompassing term which includes pain that persists for months or years, often with no visible evidence of underlying injury.  A recent Time Magazine Health Special featured an informative series of articles on the issue of chronic pain with new insights from the bench and the bedside, as well as patient stories reflecting on the challenges of living with pain. 

Leading voices in pain management are quoted extensively in the Times Magazine health special focusing on chronic pain, one of whom is Dr. Rollin M. Gallagher, editor of Pain Medicine and the American Academy of Pain Medicine’s Past President.  The Tufts University Pain Research, Education and Policy Program is honored that Dr. Gallagher will be presenting the annual Sackler Lecture at Tufts Medical Center on April 21. Dr. Gallagher will be addressing the complex pain management issues of today’s combat veterans.  

For more information about the 2011 Sackler Lecture, please click here.

Add comment  Tagged:  , , , , , , , , , March 27, 2011

Health Professionals Making a Difference in Pain Care

by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP graduate student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator and administrator, Tufts University School of Medicine

The American Pain Foundation has produced a number of helpful online videos for patients, families and health care professionals highlighting the complex nature of pain, especially chronic pain.  It is essential that pain care be a multidisciplinary process with the patient an active participant in care.  You may want to check out the American Pain Foundation’s selection of online videos on their YouTube site.  Take a look at “Health Professionals Making a Difference in Pain Care” to listen to  health professionals and pain patients share their message.

Add comment  Tagged:  , , , , , March 17, 2011

Belief of Relief

Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP graduate student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator and administrator, Tufts University School of Medicine

Beliefs and expectations of a medication’s pain reducing ability may influenceBelief in Relief the amount of pain relief a patient receives from the drug, suggests a study recently published in the journal Science Translational Medicine Science.  In the study, The Effect of Treatment Expectation on Drug Efficacy: Imaging the Analgesic Benefit of the Opioid Remifentanil,  investigators observed that the expectation of efficacy or lack of efficacy of the potent opioid Remifentanil shaped  both therapeutic and adverse effects of the medication.  Those participants who believed that the drug would have a positive effect on the experimental pain condition had double the pain relief benefit as compared to those who believed that the drug would have a negative or exacerbating effect on their pain.  Evidence from behavioral and neuroimaging  data suggest a multifocal expression of pain in the study participants with brain activity changes correlated to the expectation of efficacy of the analgesic.  The study authors conclude that integrating patients’ beliefs and expectations into pain management may produce better treatment outcomes in the future.

Add comment  Tagged:  , , , , , March 6, 2011

Can Love Reduce Pain?

by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP graduate student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator and administrator, Tufts University School of Medicine

In honor of Valentine’s Day and in celebration of “heart month”, February, today’s blog entry asks the question…can viewing a photograph of a romantic partner reduce pain?  This was the research question posed by investigators from Stanford University in a study entitled: Viewing Pictures of a Romantic Partner Reduces Experimental Pain published in PLoS  ONE.  Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the investigators examined fifteen individuals in the early stages of a romantic relationship (first nine months).  Participants completed three tasks under periods of moderate and high thermal pain: 1) viewing pictures of their romantic partner, 2) viewing pictures of an equally attractive and familiar acquaintance, and 3) a word-association distraction task previously demonstrated to reduce pain. Viewing pictures of a romantic partner and the distraction task both decreased the amount of self-reported pain experienced by the study participants.  However greater pain relief was reported while viewing pictures of a romantic partner and this was the only study condition associated with increased activity in several reward-processing regions of the brain.  According to the research team lead by Dr. Jarred Younger,  “The results suggest that the activation of neural reward systems via non-pharmacologic means can reduce the experience of pain”.   In the clinical setting, creating an environment that encouraging patients to have pictures of loved ones within view may help to achieve more effective pain management.  

What are your thoughts on this study?

1 comment  Tagged:  , , , , , February 14, 2011

Global Year Against Acute Pain

by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP graduate student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator and administrator


Anticipate, Assess, Alleviate     

The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) is the leading professional forum for science, practice and education in the study of pain.  Each year  the IASP focuses on an area of importance in the field of pain management.  This year’s focus is acute pain, with 2010-2011 being designated as the Global Year Against Acute Pain by the IASP.  Acute pain is the most frequent reason why patients visit an emergency department.  Unfortunately, inadequate acute pain control is common.  If uncontrolled or inadequately controlled, acute pain can result in increased health care costs due to longer hospital stays and a higher liklihood of the development of chronic pain.  By raising awareness of acute pain as a significant health care issue,  the IASP hopes to lessen the gap between acute pain knowledge and research and current clinical practice.  

Click here  to access resources and information about acute pain mangement and how to become involved in the IASP Global Year Against Acute Pain.

Add comment  Tagged:  , , , , , , January 30, 2011

PREP Capstone Presentations

by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP graduate student and PREP-AIRED blog administrator and moderator

Congratulations to two MS-PREP candidates who recently presented their capstone projects to a group of faculty, alumni and students of the Tufts University School of Medicine’s Pain Research, Education and Policy Programs and the New England School of Acupuncture

Kai-Yin Hsu investigated the clinical use of the MYMOP form and outcome of acupuncture treatment from a U.S. traditional Chinese Medicine teaching clinic.

Pratchi Morajkar conducted a systematic review of Dexmedetomidine and its implications for non-narcotic-based analgosedation in cardiac surgery.

Prachi Morajkar, Dr. Libby Bradshaw, PREP academic director, Kai-Yin Hsu

Both presentations reflect the diverse interests and broad scope of the Tufts University Pain Research, Education and Policy Programs.

Kai-Yin Hsu presenting her PREP capstone project

2 comments  Tagged:  , , , , , , , January 13, 2011

A New Year…What Advances in Pain Management Will We See in 2011?

by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP graduate student and PREP-AIRED Blog Administrator and Moderator

As we enter a new year, pain is still the #1 reason individuals seek out medical care (American Pain Foundation data).  Those who are involved in research, as well as direct caregivers of patients, know that pain is complex and needs to be addressed by a multi-modal and interdisciplinary approach.  Let’s take stock of where we are and where we hope to go in 2011.  We invite you to comment, discuss and brainstorm ways that we can more effectively manage pain on this site  Let’s envision a day when pain is no longer the #1 reason individuals seek medical care.

Happy New Year…may your year be filled with opportunities and possbilities.

Add comment  Tagged:  , , , , , , , , January 3, 2011

Progress and Challenges in Pain Research

By Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP graduate student, PREP-AIRED blog moderator and administrator

Thank you to Dr. Daniel Carr, founder of the Tufts University School of Medicine’s Pain Research Education and Policy Programs (PREP) for alerting us to a collection of articles in a recent edition of Nature Medicine which review progress and challenges in pain research from the bench to the bedside.  Take a look at some of the interesting issues being addressed with a focus on pain research and treatment.

Click here to view the table of contents

Add comment  Tagged:  , , , , , , , , December 10, 2010

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