FOR 1.5 BILLION PEOPLE WORLDWIDE, chronic pain is a way of life. While acute pain may occur suddenly, as a sign that something’s wrong and you should take steps to avoid injury, chronic pain persists for weeks, months—even years. It may stem from a single event: a sprained back, car accident, or fall. Or it can have its origins in arthritis, cancer, or an ear infection.
The root causes of chronic pain may even be unknown but may result in daily headache, low back pain, cancer pain, arthritis pain, or ongoing nerve pain. Chronic pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined, with back pain being the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 and 26 million Americans between 20 and 64 experiencing frequent (chronic) back pain.
The light at the end of the tunnel for chronic pain sufferers is something called “interventional pain medicine” which utilizes a multidisciplinary approach where teams of healthcare professionals work cooperatively, providing a full range of treatments and services, a widerange of procedures from conservative pain management to advanced, minimally-invasive surgeries to help patients return to their everyday activities quicklyand without heavy reliance on medications.
Pain management professionals spend their days partnering with patients and their caregivers to relieve, reduce, or manage pain to improve quality of life. Treatment modalities can include trigger point injections, nerve blocks,intravenous infusions, radio frequency lesioning, botulinum toxin injections, intraspinal analgesics, and spinal or deep brain stimulation techniques.
Your pain management physician should begin with a thorough physical exam and gather your medical history then proceed to diagnostic testing to rule out other conditions that may present similar symptoms. Bring X-rays or other test results you may have along to your first visit. Your doctor may obtain further X-rays, a CT scan,an MRI, blood tests, and possibly psychological evaluations.
Once your medical information is analyzed, your pain management physician will design a comprehensive pain program tailored specifically to you. “This may include osteopathic manipulations, spinal cord stimulation, physical therapy and steroid injections,” said Dr. Jason Butler of Arlington Pain and Therapy in Arlington, Texas. “Your doctor’s office should help coordinate any therapies you need encouraging you to participatefully in your treatment and treatment plan.”
“Chronic pain can negatively impact your life, career, and relationships,” said Dr. Thomas Hong of Arlington Pain and Therapy. “Don’t resign yourself to a life of pain. An interventional pain management physician is a board-certified,fellowship trained specialist who has dedicated their life to partnering with patients to create a personalized treatment plan that integrates a variety of effective techniques for managing your pain and getting you back in the game of life.” Your first step is contacting an interventional pain management physician to begin your evaluation and treatment—today.