Living with chronic pain can have serious, long-term consequences. Not every pain clinic or pain-relieving method will be able to offer long-lasting acute pain relief. So, when chronic pain is interfering with everyday activities, choosing the right pain management system is essential.
Pain management is typically thought of as anesthetics administered during surgery or for other inpatient procedures, but pain can also be treated in a healthcare setting by various techniques and treatments employed by pain management experts.
Besides just the use of opioid pain medications, there are several effective ways to improve your quality of life, minimize your pain level, and function normally. Such advanced pain management systems that can deal with the cause of your pain include:
- Chiropractic or acupuncture services
- Medication management
- Behavioral health services (mental health)
- Occupational or physical therapy
Here is what you need to know about living with chronic pain.
How Can One Benefit from Pain Management?
An emergency care provider should be the one to treat immediate pain caused by a sudden injury like a broken bone. But chronic pain—that which does not go away as the injury heals—may be best treated by seeing a pain management specialist.
Just like some illnesses and injuries need the attention of a specialist, like a neurologist or back surgeon, a pain management specialist can employ the latest techniques to help relieve your symptoms.
Some conditions that might benefit from a customized pain treatment plan include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Osteoarthritis of the spine
- Spinal arthritis
- Axial spondyloarthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Facet joint arthritis
- Reactive arthritis
- Other types of arthritis
- Cancer pain
- Back pain
- Joint pain
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (RSD) or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
- Neck pain
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
- Spine pain
- Bone spurs
- Sacroiliac joint pain
- Nerve root pain (commonly affects the back or neck)
Getting an Accurate Diagnosis
Medication only relieves pain flares temporarily. To find a more permanent solution, you will need to consult with a medical expert to discover the exact cause. The best way to receive effective treatment is to get an accurate diagnosis.
Your doctor should customize a treatment plan by going over all your medical records and conducting any necessary tests. Here is what that may look like:
- A physical exam
- Review of your medical history
- Analysis of blood work or lab work
- Examining other tests like CT scans, X-rays, or MRIs
Pain Management Treatment Options
There are a variety of advanced pain management techniques now being offered that come with fewer risks and side effects than opioid medications (which can lead to increased pain over time). Depending on the location and type of your pain, there are a few methods:
Steroid and Epidural Steroid Injections
Local anesthetics are injected near nerves, into the spine, or near inflamed tissue to reduce pain and stiffness caused by issues like herniated discs, spinal osteoarthritis, or degenerative disc disease. Pain relief often comes within three to seven days after the procedure.
Radiofrequency Nerve Ablations
Using a needle, heat is precisely delivered to the affected area to stop the nerves from sending pain signals to the brain. These may be used for pain in the hip, knee, shoulder, sacroiliac joint, or the thoracic, cervical, or lumbar spine.
Peripheral Nerve Stimulation
Pain signals are blocked by using temporary or permanent nerve implants, which can reduce shoulder pain, lower back pain, post-amputation pain, and a variety of other sources of chronic pain.
Spinal Cord Stimulation
This is the use of an implant to block pain signals by electrically stimulating the spinal cord. Oftentimes the patient may not even feel the stimulation, but they are given a remote control to activate the device when needed.
Guided Imagery Meditation
Although no substitute for professional medical advice and treatment, guided meditation has been shown to reduce pain. This relaxation technique can reduce stress and may be preferable to medical interventions.
Learn More About Clinical Trials in Boston
Are you or your loved one a chronic pain patient? Are you interested in participating in a clinical trial? We have a wide variety of clinical trials, and you or your loved ones may qualify if you meet certain criteria.