Chronic pain affects every aspect of your life, from your physical abilities to your emotional well-being. It’s important to seek help from a pain management specialist who is equipped with the skills and knowledge to help you reduce your pain, improve your quality of life, and regain control over your health.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is persistent, lasting for more than three months or beyond the normal healing time of an injury. It may arise from an initial trauma or injury, like a back sprain, or there may be an ongoing cause, such as illness.
There are different types of chronic pain, including neuropathic pain (pain caused by nerve damage), musculoskeletal pain (pain in muscles, bones, ligaments, or tendons), and inflammatory pain (pain caused by inflammation).
Regardless of its type or cause, chronic pain can have a severe impact on a person’s overall well-being. It can affect sleep, mood, mobility, and ability to carry out daily tasks, causing physical disability and mental distress.
The Role of Specialists in Pain Management
A pain management specialist is a medical practitioner — typically a doctor, CRNA, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, or other medically trained professional — who has specialized training and experience in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating all types of pain. These healthcare providers have undergone extra formal training beyond medical school to understand how to treat complex pain conditions effectively.
Unlike general practitioners who address all types of health issues or orthopedic surgeons who focus on skeletal issues, pain management specialists focus solely on managing pain. Their approach is comprehensive and multidisciplinary, combining various techniques to alleviate your pain and restore function.
What to Expect When You Visit a Specialist
During your first visit to a pain management specialist, you’ll undergo a thorough evaluation which involves discussing your medical history and undergoing a physical examination.
Your doctor will ask about the nature of your pain, its intensity, duration, what triggers it, and what, if anything, relieves it. They will also ask about any existing medical conditions and medications you’re taking.
In some cases, diagnostic tests like blood tests, X-rays, or MRIs may be used to help identify the cause of your pain. These tests provide a more accurate diagnosis, to guide the pain management specialist in prescribing your treatment plan.
Treatment Options in Pain Management
Pain management specialists use a variety of treatments to manage pain, such as interventional, minimally invasive procedures like nerve blocks, corticosteroid injections, or radiofrequency ablations.
Non-drug treatments are also an integral part of pain management. These can include physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, counseling or behavioral therapy, and relaxation techniques.
Traditional medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioids, or certain types of antidepressants and anticonvulsants have been found effective in managing pain, too. In the most severe cases, surgery may be required.
Most specialists will also recommend specific lifestyle changes, including exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, stress management, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol.
The Goal of Pain Management
The primary goal of pain management is to reduce pain and improve quality of life. It’s not always possible to completely eliminate chronic pain, but with effective management, it can be reduced to a level that allows you to live a fulfilling life.
Measuring the success of pain management is subjective and depends on individual goals. Improvements in sleep, mood, ability to carry out daily activities, or reduction in medication usage can all be indicators of successful pain management.
HPM: Specialists in Pain Management
HPM is one of the leading providers of specialized pain management care in the country, with clinics throughout rural America. HPM specialists go through extensive training to learn how to identify, diagnose, and treat chronic pain using a variety of effective treatments, including nerve blocks, trigger point injections, and radiofrequency ablations.
Our aim is to provide comprehensive care tailored to individual patient needs. We believe in empowering our patients with knowledge and resources to take an active role in their pain management journey.
If you’re living with chronic pain and seeking help, contact us today to find a location near you. We’re here to help you take back control over your life and live without the burden of chronic pain.