Instead of simply referring patients back to their doctors for pain management, sleep specialists now treat them for insomnia just as they would anyone elsewith sleep medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or both. But they won't get involved in pain care.
Pat Skiba, RN, 45, of Shelton, Conn., became a patient advocate for chronic pain patients because of her own battle with injury and insomnia. After a car accident in 2000 damaged her spinal cord, she says she barely slept each night for more than a yearwaking every half hour to sharp, electrocution-like stabs shooting from her lower back into her right foot.
Skiba didn't seek the help of a sleep doctor, but instead taught herself meditation techniques, such as deep abdominal breathing and guided imagery. She turned her bedroomwhich she had come to dread as a place of pain and sufferinginto a peaceful haven, complete with a fountain, candles, and a rock garden.