Guest: Cindy Perlin
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Cindy Perlin is a licensed clinical social worker, certified biofeedback practitioner, chronic pain survivor, past president of the Northeast Regional Biofeedback Society and the author of The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free. She has been in private practice in the Albany, NY area for about 25 years. Her website is www.cindyperlin.com.
Segment overview: Cindy Perlin, LCSW, discusses a legislative proposal, the Pain Treatment Parity Act, which would eliminate the barriers to pain patients getting safer and more effective care.
Health Professional Radio – Pain Treatment Parity Act
Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, thank you so much for joining us today. Our guest in studio today is Cindy Perlin, licensed Clinical Social Worker, she’s also a Certified Biofeedback Practitioner, a chronic pain survivor and the past President of the North-East Regional Biofeedback Society. In addition, she’s the Author of The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free. And she’s here to talk with us about a legislative proposal called The Pain Treatment Parity Act which will eliminate the barriers to pain patients, people that are suffering chronic pain, it would eliminate some of the barriers to them getting adequate treatment and effective care. Good afternoon Cindy, how are you?
Cindy Perlin Good, how are you doing?
N: I’m doing well. As an Author and a licensed Clinical Social Worker, the Author of The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments, what are some of the alternatives that you’re proposing for chronic pain as an alternative to opioid treatment which seems to be, well not the solution?
C: Well, there’s a lot of different treatments that work for instance physical therapy, chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, psychotherapy, relaxation training, biofeedback, nutrition, herbs, something that I’ve just discovered recently that absolutely wonderful called low-level laser therapy, which uses infrared light to speed healing. So there’s many treatments out there, all of them are very safe and all of them actually have scientific evidence of effectiveness.
N: Well the scientific evidence of effectiveness, is that enough evidence for, say health insurance to cover them? I mean because some of them sounded little bit, maybe alternative. We need to get the health insurance industry on board as well.
C: Well my experience with health insurers and I deal with them as a healthcare practitioner, is that it doesn’t matter how much evidence you have of effectiveness if they’ve decided they don’t want to cover it, they get to say that it’s experimental and then they don’t cover it. So I propose legislation to deal with that. So the legislation is called The Pain Treatment Parity Act and what would it require is for health insurers to cover any treatment for pain that has reasonable evidence of effectiveness and I designed that as at least one randomized controlled trial showing that the particular pain treatment strategy works for pain and it’s safe.
N: What do you think, I mean you’re proposing legislation and whenever legislation needs to be proposed that means there’s some resistance to the idea. What do you think the big resistance is to alternatives to pain treatment?
C: Well I think the biggest resistance comes from the pharmaceutical companies who have a lot of money and a lot of power. They are making tens of billions of dollars on drugs to treat pain and I think as of last year they hit a trillion dollars worldwide in sales of all prescription drugs. So anything that is going to be an alternative is going to be a threat to pharmaceutical industry profits.
N: Have you received any feedback from other healthcare professionals who maybe are practitioners of traditional medicine or alternative, some term alternative medicine about your book, Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free? What type of feedback have you received from doctors?
C: Well I’ve gotten positive feedback, very positive feedback from everybody who’s read the book. Of course everybody isn’t gonna read the book including people who are resistant to the idea. But I’ve centered around to quite a few people who had very positive reactions to it. I had a caucus review that said that it was a very well-researched, very comprehensive handbook that’s suitable for patients and health care practitioners. I use a lot of research citations, it’s grounded in science, it’s not just me giving my opinion.
N: Now when it comes to convincing the patients themselves about the effectiveness of these alternatives, do you find the same type of resistance with them as you do, I know not the same kind, but the same type of resistance based on the availability and ease of relief that opioids offer?
C: Well most patients want more access to other treatments and affordability is a huge problem especially when you’re talking about chronic pain patients, so maybe disabled and don’t have an adequate source of income. So insurance coverage is very important, patients want it. I get calls all the time in my practice I don’t accept insurance because medical practitioners haven’t had a raise in fess from insurance companies in over 35 years. And that’s the same for physical therapists, it’s the same for chiropractors – we have not had a raise. So having enough practitioners out there to see everyone who wants treatment is really a problem, especially for people who want mental health treatment. All the practitioners are aging out and new people can’t come into the field because they can’t afford to.
N: Now wrapping up, I’d like to ask you about your personal struggle with chronic pain, how it propelled you into this campaign against the opioid epidemic and talk about your website as well.
C: Okay. Well my personal issues have come and gone, the original issue that got me focusing so avidly on how to heal that has long ago been healed and then I’ve had other pain challenges that have been different and what I’ve discovered is that what works for one pain challenge doesn’t necessarily work for a different pain challenge because the causes can be different and you need to get at the cause so that’s really important. One of the things about taking medication is that it just treats the symptom, it doesn’t treat the cause. So if the cause is an imbalance in the muscle or a weak muscle or a stiff muscle or it’s poor nutrition or it’s inflammation that’s caused by something that you’re doing, or it’s caused by toxic exposure to, say gluten if you’re gluten sensitive. None of these things are addressed when you just take a prescription medication. So you really have to do a little detective work to see what’s going on and try different things and see what works for your problems. So the thing about my book is that it’s not one size fits all. It talks about all the different pain treatments and the different kind of pain problems that those particular treatments have been shown to work for and that makes it different than your average book about pain which usually pushes one particular treatment. So my website has more information about that and I just want to spell my name for people because people often spell it wrong, it’s P like in Peter –erlin like a Nancy. So it’s cindyperlin.com and the website has a free download as I mentioned about useful self-help tools that people can use for chronic pain, there’s also blog and one other thing I want to mention is there’s a petition on the website. If you go to the petition tab and it’s a petition to President Obama and Congress asking them to support the Pain Treatment Parity Act and the provisions of the act is…and there’s a link to sign the petition, so I hope that a lot of people go to that part of my site and do that.
N: I’m sure we will. You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. We’ve been in studio talking with Cindy Perlin, licensed Clinical Social Worker, Past President of the North-East Regional Biofeedback Society, also the Author of The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments: The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free. She is a certified Biofeedback Practitioner and Chronic Pain Survivor herself so she knows exactly what’s she’s talking about. We’ve been here talking about her proposal, The Pain Treatment Parity Act, talking about how our listeners can help with that proposal by signing a petition located at her website, cindyperlin.com. Also talking about some of the therapies that are offered in her book, The Truth About Chronic Pain Treatments. It’s been pleasure talking with you Cindy.
C: It’s been a pleasure talking with you too. Thank you.
N: Thank you. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm and you can subscribe through our podcast on iTunes.