McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Controlling chronic pain focus of public and medical education forums

Published: November 6, 2007
Dr. Gordon Ko
Dr. Gordon Ko

The medicinal use of cannabis to help control chronic pain is one of the topics of a forum in Hamilton this week as part of National Pain Awareness Week.

Dr. Gordon Ko, medical director of the physiatry pain treatment clinics at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, will discuss the science and practice of using cannabinoids – active components in cannabis - to treat chronic pain.

He will discuss research findings and clinical experiences related to the use of cannabinoids for chronic pain caused by a range of illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis, or as a result of trauma.

As medical director of the Canadian Centre for Integrative Medicine, Ko works with specialists in anesthesiology, rheumatology, medical acupuncture and orthopedic medicine to provide a multidisciplinary approach to the diagnosis and management of chronic pain and disability.

In addition to clinical practice, he is active in academic work and research focused on emerging treatments such as alternative medicine, botox and cannabinoids for fibromyalgia and chronic low back pain.

Ko is one of several experts in chronic pain research and treatment who will be speaking at a continuing medical education forum for physicians on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at the Courtyard by Marriott on Upper James Street.

Other speakers will cover topics such as recent advances in the management of neuropathic pain, the role of general practitioners in managing chronic pain, choosing analgesic medications and the myths and realities about opioids.

The forum is one of four local events organized by the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care, as part of National Pain Awareness Week from Nov. 4 to 10.

Three of the events are geared to health care professionals, while the fourth event marking the end of the week is a public forum aimed at helping patients who suffer from chronic pain.

The public forum, on Sunday, Nov. 11 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott, will feature keynote speakers Terry Bremner, a Canadian advocate for chronic pain sufferers, and Dr. Allan Gordon, director of the Wasser Pain Management Centre in Toronto.

It is estimated that up to 30 per cent of the population suffers from chronic pain. A similar public forum held two years ago in Hamilton attracted about 300 people.

Bremner is a support group development officer for the Chronic Pain Association of Canada, dedicated to helping sufferers create their own means of support in cities across the country. He was instrumental in the launch two years ago of a chronic pain support group for the Burlington and Hamilton area.

Bremner has suffered from chronic pain since a serious car accident in 1995. His discussion on Sunday will focus on teaching sufferers how to become strong advocates on their own behalf for proper treatment of their conditions. He will also offer tips and advice to help individuals with chronic pain improve their day-to-day quality of life.

Gordon, a noted leader on diagnosing and treating various forms of chronic pain, will talk about the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to pain management.

For more information or to register to attend the public forum, call 905-592-1516, or e-mail

The two other Pain Awareness Week events planned locally are geared towards pharmacists and nurses. The pharmacists’ event is tonight, and the nurses’ event is on Thursday. Both start at 6:30 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott. Registration is required, but there is no fee for the events.

The events are part of the outreach activities of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Pain Research and Care, which was established at McMaster University in 2004. They were organized by Kiran Yashpal, a researcher with the institute.

Jim Henry, scientific director of the institute, will deliver opening remarks at the educational forum for physicians.

For more details on any of the events, click here:


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