The relationship between the AZ Pain Centers and University Medical Center‘s program centers on chronic pain. Chronic pancreatitis is a source of nawing pain in the abdomen or stomach area and in the central back area. The pancreas is a gland that sits just behind the stomach. It has two functions. It is triggered by food that is eaten to create and empty juices called enzymes into the intestine to digest food. It also has cells called islet cells that produce insulin to control blood glucose or sugar levels. In chronic pancreatitis, juices or enzymes from the pancreas are activated before leaving the pancreas and proceed to digest the pancreas itself causing the pain. As the pancreas sits just in front of the spine the pain can be felt most severely in the back.
Eventually, with increasing destruction, the pancreas loses the ability to produce enzymes and the islet cells in the pancreas are also destroyed resulting in diabetes. In the words of Dr. Kahn, Medical Director at the U of A Medical Center “While at the University of Arizona we can provide methods to diagnose and treat chronic pancreatic disease including transplantation, we rely on AZ Pain Centers for their expertise in understanding and treating pain.
It is important not only to diagnose the disease process but also to understand the pain and apply appropriate treatment modalities. With their expertise we can rely on AZ Pain Centers to give us a clear idea of the nature of the pain and how it can be treated ultimately helping us to treat these patients. Sometimes the assessment by AZ Pain Centers or response to treatment can help us by considering alternative diagnosis where the situation is not clear."
What are some of the warning signs or things that people should be aware of, such as abdominal pain. Chronic pain in the stomach or back area can be due to many different illnesses so it is important to have a thorough evaluation. On the other hand if the pain in the abdomen occurs suddenly In someone who was previously well there are yet other potential serious disorders such as acute appendicitis and medical advice should be sought as an emergency. Diarrhea and gas are features of pancreatic failure and malabsorption after long standing chronic pancreatitis but can be features of other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. Severe nausea can accompany disorders of the pancreas and may be related to dysfunction of the stomach.