By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – Five years ago Julie Karaganis injured her left arm during a power yoga class. The 38 -year old a stay-at-home mom of two became virtually paralyzed with pain.

“I stopped doing laundry and groceries and cooking and everything.  And my kids call it the bad arm and just knew that I couldn’t do what they wanted me to do.”

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Karaganis tried everything including surgery, nerve ablations, injections and narcotic pain pills.

Eve Kennedy-Spaien, a certified pain specialist, says opioids aren’t very useful for chronic pain.

“In the short run with acute pain those medications can be very helpful.  But when it’s a chronic issue, it actually increases instead of decreases the pain level and you end up needing more and it’s become a huge crisis,” explains Kennedy-Spaien.

Desperate for relief, Karaganis went to Spaulding Rehab in Medford, which according to Kennedy-Spaien, has the most comprehensive pain program in the country.  Patients receive mental health counseling, physical and occupational therapy, biofeedback, and classes like yoga and Tai chi.

A pain management course helps patients learn to cope. (WBZ-TV)

A pain management course helps patients learn to cope. (WBZ-TV)

“Eighty percent of the patients who graduate this program, these are people who have had pain up to 20 years, have had significant functional changes and 88% report extreme improvement in their life satisfaction,” says Kennedy-Spaien.

Thirty-eight-year-old Ben Dick, who has had pain since he was 10 years old, is nervous about taking too many pills.

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“There has been some addiction in the family,” explains Ben.

Now a graduate of the program, Ben says just having someone validate his pain and provide mental health support made a big difference in his quality of life.

“I’d say for me it’s been life-altering,” explains Ben.

And after six weeks of therapy, not only is Julie’s pain more manageable, but more importantly her kids say they got their mom back.

“My son checks before he grabs my arm to give me a hug to make sure it’s okay but other than that, they say I’m back to the family and I’m back to who I used to be,” says Julie.

The pain program accepts patients as young as 13 and is covered by most insurance companies.

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If you’d like more information you can go http://spauldingrehab.org/locations/medford-ma or call Eve Kennedy-Spaien at 781-391-7518.

Dr. Mallika Marshall