Doctor Marc Lévêque, neurosurgeon and pain specialist in Marseille is the author of several books on the question of psychosurgery and pain surgery, he has just written a book (1) dedicated to the 14 million French people who clench their teeth on a daily basis, from suffering. “I call it the scandal of pain and all medicine, he begins. One in five French people today suffers chronically, without finding relief elsewhere than in the overconsumption of opioids and other painkillers. There are other ways out. »
All equal in the face of pain?
We call some of them “tough on pain” or “hard to cook”, but in the end, are we all equal in the face of pain? Is the famous scale from 0 to 10 the same for everyone? “Ah, what a great question,” smiled the doctor. Pain varies in each of us based on our genetics. There are even people who have insensitivity to pain, congenital analgesia. I knew a patient as a child who stepped on a screw, drove it deep into his foot, and didn’t even wince. Moreover, you will find my remarks sexist, but the sensation of pain varies according to the sexes. Women are more sensitive to pain, with sensitivity varying according to the hormonal cycle. »
Women who give birth in pain since the dawn of time would be more vulnerable to pain? Dr. Marc Lévêque risks making a few enemies among feminists. “Suffering does not protect against pain, pain begets pain,” he explains. And besides, it is quite likely that women, who are sensitized to pain very early on with menstruation, childbirth, etc., have a lower threshold because of that. Other external elements intervene in the fact of supporting better or not, the fact of having pain: the social aspect counts, disadvantaged people suffer more, unhappy people at work too, those who are also alone. »
The 4S rule
In his book, Dr. Lévêque explains that if one responds to the 4 S, physical inactivity, loneliness, overweight, senescence (old age), then chronic pain sets in, amplifies and the ultimate response becomes medication. “Doctors in general have got into the habit, because medical demography is at its lowest and because they lack time, of prescribing painkillers systematically, as a reflex. Analgesics, psychotropics, antibiotics are the most prescribed drugs: the drug market is 62 billion euros per year, according to LEEM. (the pharmaceutical union, Editor’s note) »
To get out of all medication, Dr. Marc Lévêque describes new techniques to control and fight pain. But above all, he advocates sports medicine, good nutrition, all the practices of hypnosis, meditation, cognitive-behavioral therapy, acupuncture, sophrology and relaxation. In Marseille, he practices neuromodulation techniques, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) “It’s about stimulating areas of the brain that correspond to pain signals,” he says, “non-invasive practices, but which require the availability of suitable devices in a hospital environment. Drugs are available everywhere, but these non-drug techniques are only accessible in pain centers, and even then not all. There are only 300 in France, all saturated. »
Doctor Lévêque’s book is a plea to “save” people who suffer in silence. “Only twenty hours are devoted to the theme of pain during medical studies, it is not even a recognized specialty in its own right, when we all have around us people who suffer and whose life is seriously slowed down, altered, dominated by this suffering. »