Dr. Nikesh Seth

A Pain Patient’s Story

I didn’t become a pain doctor to write prescriptions. I did it because like most doctors I wanted to help people. And I did it during a time when patients were not in the habit of gaming the system the way they do now, realistically imitating chronic pain symptoms,nor in a time when there was an opioid epidemic, nor in a time when people with chronic pain are forced to go “doctor shopping” to find relief.

I know you realize that most ethical doctors go into practice to heal people. But you’ve also heard of the few outliers who are shills of Big Pharma, making money for writing prescriptions. In the back of the minds of everyone I meet is now a little grain of doubt: “is he really legit.” Try living with that.

We pain specialists are in an almost impossible dilemma. We’re caught between patients who try to deceive us to get the drugs they need for their addictions, and patients who may look like deceivers and addicts, who actually suffer from a chronic pain condition. We have to thread the needle to find the “right” patients.

I’ll give you an example of this. A young patient came into my office with a pain in his foot. It had been going on for quite a while,  and he had been to several other physicians and even to the emergency room without a  diagnosis. He had had standard x-rays taken and they had revealed no reason for the pain, which was getting worse.

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