Monday, December 12, 2011

New Rights for People in Pain

The Declaration Montreal: Access to pain management is a fundamental human right is the title of a recent article in the prestigious journal PAIN (2011, 152, p. 2673) by Doctors Cousins and Lynch.

This article includes the Declaration of Montreal, created at the International Pain Summit of the International Society for the Study of Pain (IASP). Eighty-four countries supported this most basic of human rights.

This essence of this declaration is that health care providers, governments and health care organizations are obligated to provide adequate treatment and management of pain, even when it is difficult to diagnose the actual cause of the pain.

The Summit leaders also recognized that chronic pain, with or without diagnosis is highly stigmatized - and that all levels of health care should work to reduce this stigma.

Thank you to the IASP for their continuing dedication to the millions of people who live, all over the world, each day in pain.

Yours with Care - Michael

Monday, December 5, 2011

Be The Voice

Be the Voice - for those who have no voice. This is the slogan for an ad for the World Wildlife Fund. It is incredible that so few words can say so much.

Many people who live in pain also feel that they have no voice. They feel powerless in the face of constant pain and powerless in their ability to get the help the need.

Health professionals have power. They know the system and have the energy to fight for what their patients need. Let's use this power to do the best work we can. Let's use this power to care. Let's use this power to put our opinions on paper to help validate the true needs of people who live every day in pain.

We can make a difference. I see it every day.

Caring IS good medicine. Thank you to the late Bill Moyers for his wise words.

Yours with care - Michael

Monday, September 19, 2011

Undeniable Scientific Support for Fibromyalgia

In case you haven't heard, there is a new book on fibromyalgia.

It is by Dr. Kevin White (M.D., Ph.D.), entitled  Breaking Through The Fibro Fog. This book is incredible and documents the clear and significant scientific basis of fibromyalgia. Dr. White is a rheumatologist and well-recognized pain researcher. This book is for patients as well as scientists.

Please check it out at

Take that all you skeptics! 

Yours with care - Michael

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Lot of Suffering

One of my patients made an interesting comment the other day. She said, .." you must see a lot of suffering."

Although this is true, I hadn't really thought about it that way. Probably, because it does not feel like a burden. For some reason, this kind of work is a good fit for me. For over 25 years, I have been working with people who live every day in pain. Each person is different and each person's life has been affected in a different way by physical pain and the loss and suffering it can lead to.

I am lucky to be able to do the work I do.

Yours with care

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Chronic Pain - 25 Years in the Field

Please check out this new article,

Chronic pain in context: Some observations from 25 years in the field

published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology Practice (2011,2, 22-32).  It was written for an invited presentation I did at the Pain Grand Rounds, St. Joseph's Hospital in London Ontario.

This article is written in easy to understand everyday language and includes ideas and methods from my 25 years of work in this field.

I think you will enjoy it.

Here is the link

Yours with care

Monday, February 28, 2011

Dr. Oz and Time Magazine Talk about Chronic Pain

Thank you to the American Pain Foundation for alerting me (and now you) to 2 new articles about chronic pain. You can also sign up for Action Alerts from the American Pain Foundation and have new articles and research sent directly to your email inbox. No stress, no hassles. Just solid helpful information.

You can sign up at 

These 2 articles were published recently by Time magazine. One is by Dr. Mehmet Oz

"The End of Ouch" 

The other one is by Alice Park     "Healing the Hurt"

Both these articles add much needed recognition, scientific backing and credibility to the field of chronic pain.

I hope these articles can help make your life even a little better.

Yours with care

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Compassion Can be a Powerful and Practical Tool

I came across a fascinating talk, recently, at This is a great website to watch short videos from leaders in a variety of fields. Most talks are only 6 minutes and get right to the point. Plus they are free.

I was captivated by a talk from Krista Tippett, called Reconnecting with Compassion. It was not a sentimental appeal for more compassion in our lives, although more is definitely needed - everywhere. It was a highly intelligent discussion of what compassion really means, and can mean in our daily lives.

You can find her talk at

She outlined how kindness is at its' core, as well as beauty, empathy and mystery. She described how compassion can be a practical tool for solving problems.

She mentioned how compassion can be thought of as curiosity without assumptions.

This describes, to me, the perfect attitude for health care providers to take when trying to understand others' pain.

Be careful, this talk may change you.

Yours with care

Friday, January 28, 2011

Two Main Types of Chronic Pain

My patients suffer from long-term physical pain, mostly to their backs, necks, occipital head area, and knees. These chronic pain symptoms are usually caused by car or work accidents. These are the problems that have made up my rehab practice, for the past 25 years.

It helps patients to learn that their chronic pain often has two main patterns. One is a constant background pain. This is very difficult to endure, but usually over time it gets a little easier. (Most people don't believe this at first.)

The second type is much tougher. This pattern involves escalations of pain or flare-ups. These escalations can be triggered by increases in certain movements, general increases in activity, increases in stress, poor sleep, or sometimes a build-up of all of these causes.

 Flare-ups are usually temporary in nature. They can last a few hours, few days or even weeks. They don't feel this way, though. After an injury, your increased pain can be so powerful that you are convinced that it will never settle down. Often the high level of pain is frightening to you and your family.

Over time, people learn about their own flare-ups - how long they last, what might have triggered them, how best to cope during a flare-up, what medications are needed, and how to help your family not be so frightened.

In my book, Unbelievable Pain Control,  you will learn about all of the ways that pain can affect you, and how to best manage your pain and your life with pain.

For readers of this blog, I have made a signed copy available to you for only $10.00 (plus shipping). Please just send your request to me at

Thank you

Yours with Care

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chronic Pain is about Pain And Loss

Most of my patients have been hurt in car or work accidents, so I end up working with a lot of lawyers.

Sometimes, lawyers are confused about my work. I am a rehab psychologist who helps people with physical injuries and disabilities. One lawyer, a few years ago, said to me, rather bluntly,  "What do you do". What this lawyer was really asking is, you are a psychologist, my clients have serious physical injuries, what do YOU do?

I told him,  "pain and loss". To me that sort of summed it all up.

If a person's injuries and pain go away after a few months, they would never come and see a psychologist like me. Their injuries would heal, their pain would go away, and they could quickly get back on with their regular life. Not much stress involved.

If your injuries, pain and limitations continue, month after month, the stresses in your life start to escalate. Maybe your work is disrupted and you are having trouble getting benefits. Maybe your pain and limitations interfere with your family life and your spouse and children are having difficulties coping with the extra load on them. You may be having trouble sleeping. These problems and losses start to build, day after day, month after month. Many people don't know where to start getting their life back under control.

Most importantly, these stresses and losses can physically aggravate your physical injuries. Stress can aggravate any serious physical health problem - especially chronic health problems.

Pain and injury cause stress and loss. Stress and loss trigger more pain.  Higher levels of pain cause even more stress and loss. Who wouldn't need help trying to get this viscious cycle under control.

Please check out my website for some helpful ideas

Yours with care

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chronic Pain - Many Questions - Simple Answers

What is chronic pain?  What is fibromyalgia?

Are these real physical health problems?  Are they recognized by doctors, insurers, and the courts?

Can stress or depression cause chronic pain or fibromyalgia?

Can chronic pain or fibromyalgia interfere with my ability to work?

These are the central questions that my patients ask me every day. They cause injured people, as well as family members, much stress and worry.

I have tried to answer these questions in simple and easy to understand ways. I have even devoted separate chapters to some of these important concerns.

You can find all of this information plus much help for your pain, your stress and the many ways that your life has been disrupted. Please check out my new book

Unbelievable Pain Control: How to Heal and Recover from Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia
by Michael R. MacDonald, Ph.D.

Please consider a 40% savings. Just send me a quick email.

This book is also available from  or

My patients seem to like  this book. I hope you do too.

Yours with care

Friday, January 14, 2011

Caring is Good Medicine - New Findings

This is one of my favourite sayings - "Caring is good medicine"  (Bill Moyers).

Some new research findings help support this view. A recent study from the European National Health Service studied hospital treatments, outcomes and costs, and made some strong recommendations. By helping patients have a better experience in hospital, better outcomes resulted and lower costs. Patients suffered from fewer complications after surgeries and were generally healthier.

Common sense  approaches seem to help. "Simple things like spending time with patients, talking to them, listening to their concerns..."   These are the simple things that are sometimes lacking when patients with chronic pain and fibromyalgia are surveyed about their health care experiences.

This kind of approach is especially helpful for patients with long-term pain. Patience and compassion are necessary to help people learn about their injuries and pain. Encouragement and understanding can help people gain some of the strength they need to move forward in their lives.

Yours with care

Monday, January 10, 2011

Real and Physical Chronic Pain

It has been estimated, by numerous research studies, that about 15-20 percent of the population suffer from various forms of chronic pain. For many of these people, doctors have not been able to find any clear results from ultrasound, x-rays, CT scans or MRI scans.

This is actual quite common. But it does not mean that there is no physical injury or illness causing the pain. All it means, is that the high tech tests have not been able to show the physical source of injury.  

People with chronic neck or low back pain often struggle to understand their injuries. This is harder when the doctors and their investigations cannot find any clear explanation. This is frustrating for doctors too.

The bottom line is that doctors have to accept what their patients tell them and try to find the best possible treatments. This is the general rule of thumb is all of health care And, generally, the more details that patients can provide, the better.

Another necessary ingredient, of course, is trust. Scientists are devoting their lives to try and come up with better investigation tools. In the meantime, patience and good faith can go a long way. 

Yours with care,

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chronic Pain - A Sense of Entitlement - Of Course!

When I am preparing to testify in court, the lawyers will send me all of the reports and documentation that have been done on the case. This is important, since I need to know what the particular controversies may be.

Sometimes, when reading reports from insurance doctors, I see that the patient is accused of having a "sense of entitlement". This term is used to attack the person's character and honesty. The implication is that the injured person is exaggerating their symptoms because they feel that others (meaning insurers) owe them a living. This is a transparent attempt to blame the victim.

If you should happen to read such slurs, please remember this. Accusations are cheap and easy to make. It is the facts that count. In fact, attacks may come from both lawyers, not just the insurance lawyers.

If you have been unable to work, your financial losses have been climbing. The longer you are off of work the bigger your losses will be. If you can never return to work, your fears of more and more losses will be high.

Under these circumstances, of course you expect to be fairly compensated for your losses. Just like the insurance doctors have a sense of entitlement about their high fees.

Your job is to be honest and do everything you can to get better. Thats all.

Yours with care

Monday, January 3, 2011

How to Reduce the Losses Caused by Your Chronic Pain & FM

Happy New Year everyone. I hope this new year can bring you less pain, less stress (caused by your pain) and fewer losses.

Safety First.  This is one of the most important first steps to recovery. You have to protect or restore your benefits. You don't want to incur additional losses and stresses. You need all of your energy and strength to deal with your pain.

From my website, you can download (for Free) a 16 page booklet which will outline how you can keep yourself safe from further losses. Just click this link and it will take you there:

I hope some of this information can help you, even a little.

Yours with care