Lee Edition

Adapting to Life with Chronic Pain

By Dr. Richard Berkun –

Adapting to Life with Chronic PainWhen faced with a diagnosis of any chronic pain condition, it is easy to find yourself deciding between one of two extreme choices:

1. To take the ‘ostrich approach’ and stick your head in the sand, hoping it all goes away;
2. To find a way of continuing with your life in spite of the chronic condition.

Although the first option is probably quite an attractive one, I would like to introduce you to Darlene Goggin, a strong-willed woman who chose the second approach when she was first diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), or what has become better known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).

A Chicago native, Darlene moved to the sunshine state in 1975. In 1985 Darlene sought treatment from her family doctor about a pain in her foot that simply would not go away. For approximately a decade, Darlene pushed through the oftentimes intense pain, unable to find any treatment that could provide lasting relief. Because her symptoms were general and could have been caused by numerous conditions, it took about eight months of testing and ruling out various conditions to finally determine that the cause of her pain was RSD, now commonly referred to as CRPS. Following the initial diagnosis, Darlene’s primary doctor referred her to Cortez Foot & Ankle Specialists for treatment. Since her initial visit in 1985, Darlene has developed a strong and positive patient-doctor relationship with Dr. Berkun.

When she was first diagnosed with RSD, there wasn’t much known about the condition. Dr. Berkun recalls, “Darlene was in severe pain and through conservative care over the years, she has been allowed to lead a fairly normal lifestyle”.

Over the past 17 years the medical field has learned quite a bit more about CRPS since Darlene’s diagnosis. There is no cure for CRPS, but the disease can be slowed. The main focus is on relieving the symptoms and helping people with this syndrome live as normal a life as possible.

Darlene says that with Dr. Berkun’s help her pain is now more manageable and that the worst symptoms have gone away. She added that Dr. Berkun can tell when her pain is most severe and he always finds a way to help alleviate it, allowing her to resume daily activities. As she said, life doesn’t stop just because you are in pain, you must work through the pain to overcome it.

Darlene accredits being able to successfully manage her chronic pain to Dr. Berkun and the entire staff at Cortez Foot & Ankle Specialists. She says, “Whenever I have any issues with my feet, whether it is due to the CRPS or not, I always seek treatment from Dr. Berkun and staff. In over 15 years I have always received the best care from them. Dr. Berkun always takes the time, often going above and beyond to ensure that all of my questions and concerns are answered.”

“For the past 17 years I have trusted Dr. Berkun and Cortez Foot & Ankle to always do what is best for me and they always have.” According to Darlene, Dr. Berkun is more than just a podiatrist. She considers him a family doctor because when developing treatment options he and his staff always account for how any foot and ankle problem can affect the body as a whole.

We all know that when there is a problem with our feet, it can have a negative impact on other parts of the body. Dr. Berkun recognizes this and works closely with his patients’ other health providers to develop the best treatment plan for each individual case. According to Dr. Berkun, maintaining an open line of communication with the patient’s health care providers helps to understand their overall health condition and provide the very best care at our disposal.

“Whenever anyone I know has a problem with their feet, I eagerly recommend Dr. Berkun and Cortez Foot & Ankle Specialists. The entire office staff is friendly and supportive. I am tough to impress but they never cease to amaze me with the quality of care they provide.”

Dr. Richard Berkun graduated from the University of Rochester and the New York College of Podiatric Medi-cine. He completed surgical training at Sheridan Park Hospital in Buffalo where he spent his childhood. He served on the Credentials Committee of the American Board of Podiatric Surgery and was a former Board Member of the American Diabetes Association. He is a former AAAHC inspector, reviewing surgical centers all over the country. He presently is the President of Manasota Podiatric Medical Association, a component of the Florida Podiatric Association. He sits on the Executive Board for the State of Florida and is the CEO of Cortez Foot and Ankle Specialists. Dr. Berkun has contributed articles to the Bradenton Herald and “Sarasota” Magazine. He spends his noon hours cycling and has competed in Disney, Boston and Tampa marathons. He also is an avid golfer and sports enthusiast. Dr. Berkun joined Cortez Podiatry Associates in 1981.

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