East End Pain Clinic
A Commitment to Life-Long Pain Management

Allen Wynperle News

The area of chronic pain encompasses a wide range of physical, emotional, and systemic issues. As patients deal with their pain challenges, it helps to have a doctor like psychiatrist Dr. Jeff Ennis, who understands his patients’ issues first-hand. “I’m a patient with the exact same issues,” Dr. Ennis, who suffers from chronic pain himself, explains. He founded the East End Multidisciplinary Pain Management Program, located within St. Joseph’s Healthcare: Centre for Ambulatory Services in Hamilton in 1998. Through his work at the clinic, he has turned his own challenges into a way to help others, while simultaneously helping himself.

Dr. Ennis encourages patients to live active lives despite their pain. The idea is that the pain will no longer be a signal for determining what a patient can do, Dr. Ennis says. In addition to the understanding that Dr. Ennis brings, the East End Pain Clinic is unique in its focus on allowing patients to continue with their normal lives, while attending the clinic three mornings per week. “We are trying to get people involved in learning new skills and using those skills in their daily lives,” Dr. Ennis says. “People at both ends of the functional spectrum can participate in this program. People who have severe functional problems can manage in our program. People who function well can still work at their jobs,” he explains.

Patients can practice what they have learned at the clinic at home, and discuss and resolve any issues the following week. “Once they get back into their day-to-day lives, it can be difficult. If they have difficulties, they bring them back to the clinic and we discuss them.”

The clinic offers an 11-week cognitive behavioural program, which incorporates 100 hours of training, in both the physical and emotional aspects of pain management. “We dispel the myths about pain. They come out with an understanding of the reality of the pain instead of the myths,” program manager Gilda Ennis explains. “Many patients are afraid to do too much for fear of the pain worsening. Coping means living a full life,” she says.

The program offers a wide range of services, including psycho-educational sessions, tai chi, water aerobics classes, physiotherapy, psychotherapy, specialized occupational therapy, nutritional counseling and psychiatry, as well as relaxation and stress management training. Help with physical fitness, hypnosis and sleep, and family dynamics is also offered. In addition, goal setting is an important component of the program.

All of the Clinic’s staff has extensive experience in the chronic pain area, and have been trained in the use of cognitive behavioural therapy. Prior to opening the East End Pain Clinic, Dr. Ennis worked as assistant director at the Chedoke Hospital pain clinic in Hamilton, and has many years of experience in working with chronic pain patients.

The benefits of the clinic extend far beyond the 11 weeks that patients are in the program. Some patients continue their pain management program through a support group created by patients that meets monthly for information and motivation. At each meeting, a different expert who offers relevant information for the management of chronic pain – for example, a pharmacist - speaks to the group. All East End Pain Clinic patients, past and present, are welcome to join once their 11-week session is complete. “Some people have really risen to the occasion,” Gilda Ennis says. “People have been able to find new meaning in their lives,” she says.

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