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Turning Point expands programming

New focus on managing pain

A young-at-heart 70, Darlene Jerome flatly refuses to take her chronic pain lying down.

"I'm being proactive, trying to take control," she said of the excruciating pain she sometimes suffers from severe arthritis in her lower spine. "I'm exploring my options to buy as much time as I can, in case the arthritis progresses to the point surgery is needed."

One such option is "Learn to Manage Your Pain Before It Manages You," a new, nine-week program offered by Turning Point: The Center for Hope and Healing. Open to anyone living with chronic pain, the free sessions are at The University of Kansas Health System's Marc A. Asher, MD, Comprehensive Spine Center.

"Pain is extremely complex, which is why it can be so challenging to treat," said Talal Khan, MD, director of interventional pain management at the spine center, addressing the opening class. Research shows an estimated 116 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain.

"It's incredibly frustrating because it's so unpredictable," Darlene explained. "Many days, I feel fine … working on my computer … shooting photographs at the zoo or different places as my hobby. But the suddenly I can barely walk! Every step brings intense pain."

Medical experts detail a different strategy for pain management each week. These include guided imagery, chair yoga, T'ai Chi, avoiding foods that can contribute to pain, managing emotions, increasing physical function and the role of hope.

If enough interest is shown, the program may be offered throughout the year in the future.

Since becoming a health system partner in 2012, Turning Point has expanded its offerings to benefit even more patients, including those living with heart failure, stroke, chronic pain and other conditions.

Turning Point is a gathering place for individuals, families and friends living with serious or chronic physical illness. Thanks to the generosity of people like you, our education and support programs are offered at no charge. For more information on how your gift can make a difference to those living with illness, please call Julie Mulhern at 913-574-0900 or email julie@turningpointkc.org.