San Diego Pain Summit Bringing Bright Minds of Pain Science Together

San Diego Pain Summit

Nearly 100 years ago, San Diego made its mark in history with its Panama-California Exposition between 1915 to 1917, a celebration of the opening of the Panama Canal in which San Diego was its first U.S. port of call for ships traveling north through the canal.  On February 20, 2015, San Diego may experience another significant historical event in the realm of health care that could change the way clinicians and researchers deal with pain. The San Diego Pain Summit, which will take place at the Marina Village Conference Center near Sea World, will be bringing many bright minds together who work in the field of pain science research as well as health professionals who deal with pain regularly in their practice.

“The impetus for this event occurred when I was hosting a continuing education class. Most of the participants were physical therapists, and about three or four of them had graduated in the last couple years,” explained Rajam Roose, who is a massage therapist and the mastermind and organizer behind the San Diego Pain Summit. “During a break, the instructor was asking them if they were learning about Melzack, Moseley, or Butler’s work (these are all researchers who have been studying pain). The students replied, “Yes”, and they were learning about the work of these researchers, but they really had ‘no clue how to apply it in practice”. It was that moment that a bell went off and I knew that I wanted to organize an event where manual therapists could learn how to apply the concepts of pain science into their work.”

“In manual therapy, many practitioners and clinicians are still using treatment protocols based on outdated theories about pain. It’s important for manual therapists to be able to translate this information into the clinic because it is their patients who will reap the benefits,” Roose continued. “Chronic pain is a real problem in this society, and there needs to be a change to reflect the new information that neuroscientists and other researchers have been discovering.

When asked why should therapists and the public care about what the San Diego Pain Summit is about, Roose replied, “Most people enter the manual therapy profession because they want to help people. This conference will cover a variety of ways, from movement to manual techniques to teaching pain education for clients or patients that manual therapists can use for those coming in for pain management. We have to recognize that although we still don’t fully understand pain, we understand a lot more than we did 15 to 20 years ago. And it’s imperative we change our treatment protocols to reflect the science.

Not only will the San Diego Pain Summit bring some of the bright minds of pain science together, it also attracts different health professionals who wants to learn about pain so they can help their patients or clients better. “There are continuing education credits available for physical therapists, massage therapists, athletic trainers, and personal trainers. Besides those professions, there are Feldenkrais practitioners, Rolfers, chiropractors, and a couple of psychiatrists have signed up,” Roose said. “As of now, there are people signed up from England, Brazil, Portugal, Canada, and from around the U.S. This can be for any clinician who is interested in how to apply pain science in a clinical setting.”

Dr. Lorimer Moseley, who is the lead pain researcher at the University of South Australia in Adelaide, will kick off the the San Diego Pain Summit with a keynote speech on how pain changes the brain. Other speakers who will be sharing various topics of pain science at the San Diego Pain Summit include physical therapists Jason Silvernail, Diane Jacobs, and Barrett Dorko, and psychologist Dr. Christopher Moyer.

I am just excited and honored to participate (at the San Diego Pain Summit) with so many respected colleagues of mine – most of whom I haven’t met in person yet!” exuberated Silvernail, who works as a physical therapist for the U.S. Army. “Of course, add our keynote speaker Dr. Moseley, and that was the icing on the cake. I’ve been a fan of his work for a long time. There is a very small group of researchers, teachers and clinicians who have helped popularize pain science and helped give people the tools to bring it into practice, and Lorimer Moseley is one of those people. With any significant change in the research base, as we’ve had with pain science, you will see a lot of uncertainty in the field. I really am motivated to help people navigate that uncertainty and find their footing under the shifting ground that is the pain science evidence base. It really should change so much of what we do in medicine and therapy – and that can be threatening. I’d like to help lower that threat value for people and make this material accessible and interesting for them. I don’t run my own research lab like Dr. Moseley, and I don’t produce much new research, but I can do my part to help people understand and integrate it into their practice.”

I want to contribute whatever I can as a speaker, but whatever that turns out to be will pale by comparison to the possibilities of all of us together turning this slow trickle of pain science into the culture into more of a raging torrent,” said Jacobs, who hails from Saskatchewan, Canada. “Pain as output from the brain, not input to the brain. If everyone who attends understands that message alone, then goes out and delivers that message to their own patient/client population one by one, collectively, we can help the whole grassroots culture correct its thinking on pain and disability. Would that not be a great thing in the long run?”

San Diego Pain Summit
San Diego Pain Summit 2015 line-up.
Barrett Dorko, PT, who practices in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, pitched in his two-cents about why he wants to attend the San Diego Pain Summit. “I’ve spent the last forty years working toward attendance at this kind of event. Finally it has arrived and I’m one of the speakers. My own work has developed into a theory and method for common problems encountered in both the chronic and acute worlds. For me, being able to defend what I do and say with good evidence is essential. Over the course of the past few years, my thinking has expanded and my method has been simplified. To me, the complexity of that pain possesses means that it will always surprise me, challenge me and draw me close before heading in a direction I hadn’t anticipated. In San Diego, I’ll learn more about how to think, what might possibly happen, and explain how instinctive movement might be amplified with my chosen method.”

Jason Erickson, who is a certified massage therapist and the San Diego Pain Summit’s Master of Ceremony, added that the pain summit may increase the awareness of current pain science that is largely ignored in mainstream medical practice and education. “Research shows that people in pain benefit from understanding the nature of pain and how to manage it. All health and fitness professionals who work with people in pain can become more effective through understanding how to adapt the concepts to the way they interact with their clients or patients. This summit brings together leaders and practitioners to learn from one another so that each one can take that knowledge back to their practices and help others.”

Attendees in the San Diego Pain Summit may find new ideas and research that challenge their existing understanding of pain. These news way may develop more cost-effective and effectiveness to treat pain in general. “I hope that the work presented in this conference establishes new ways of looking to the pain management and its modulation and to be a beacon of the exchange that can be in knowledge from various manual therapists,” said Sérgio Neto, who is a physical therapist from Gaia, Portugal. “I hope that this conference brings out the best approaches to deal with pain and its outcomes.”

While the San Diego Pain Summit may not have the huge fanfare that the Panama-California Exposition had experienced back then, this summit is the first of its kind that applies pain science with clinical practice. This will not be the first one nor its last. Roose is already planning for the 2016 San Diego Pain Summit, bringing even more bright minds of pain science together from around the world. But first, the 2015 version must go through its “trial phase” since nobody really knows what to expect or what the outcome will be. “It’s an outstanding initiative Rajam has created here,” Jacobs lauded. “I do not think it has ever been done before – creating a huge focus for people who do our type of non-pharmaceutical, non-surgical work with people in pain to attend (the San Diego Pain Summit) that is strictly about clinical applications of pain science for people in pain.


By Nick Ng

Global Event List
San Diego Pain Summit
Interview with Rajam Roose, HHP
Interview with Jason Silvernail, DPT
Interview with Barett Dorko, PT
Interview with Diane Jacobs, PT
Interview with Jason Erickson, CMT, CPT
Interview with Sérgio Neto, PT

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