In the 1990s, narcotics were a doctor’s weapon of choice for fighting pain. The result was an outbreak of abuse that left patients sedated but did little to address the cause of their suffering.
“It’s a whole different mindset now,” says Lee Ann Rhodes, a pain-management specialist at Washington Hospital Center. “It’s not just about shots and pills. It’s all about lifestyle changes.”
To Rhodes—who trained at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland in College Park, where she grew up—good sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet are crucial to overcoming discomfort, especially as Americans trend towards obesity. “If someone has pain, a lot of the time it’s because of misusing the body,” she says.
Rhodes refers patients to psychologists, acupuncturists, and physical therapists. She sees herself as part of a team of doctors helping patients and their families tackle pain from every angle.
“You really have to be a coach,” she says. “It helps make them feel like they’re in control of their own healthcare.”
See a profile of breast-cancer specialist Colette Magnant here.