Today’s discussion will be called Pain Management Miramar [Part I]. This is a complex and broad topic, so we will start with the basic concepts of pain management.
First, let me start by answering an important question, what is pain management?
Pain management is when a practitioner evaluates, diagnoses, and develops a plan of care based on the patient’s pain complaints. For effective pain management, it is essential to understand what type of pain it is, its location, what triggers it, and the pain level, among many other factors.
Furthermore, during the evaluation, the practitioner may ask the patient an array of questions to further understand the problem, for example:
- How long have you been dealing with this type of pain?
- Did something happen that started this pain?
- What kind of work do you do?
- What leisure or other activities do you do?
- How has the pain impacted your daily life?
- What makes the pain worse?
- What makes the pain better?
- Have you had this particular type of pain before?
- How has the pain been managed in the past?
- How is the pain being addressed now?
The answers to these questions plus a physical examination will guide the practitioner to get to the root cause of the problem. Knowing the root cause of the problem is crucial to treating the pain appropriately and effectively.
Once the pain source is determined, then the patient and practitioner can discuss a plan on how to diminish and control the pain symptoms. Pain management does not promise to eliminate all the pain but reduce it to improve function so the patient can continue and/or return to their daily activities.
So, how does a pain management program work?
Pain management for acute pain is often managed by medication(s) alone and/or with pain-relief modalities, such as transcutaneous electrical stimulation, cold therapy, heat therapy, etc.
As the pain becomes chronic and more persistent, pain management must be a multi-disciplinary approach. This multi-disciplinary team includes surgeons, doctors, physical therapists, acupuncturists, psychologists, etc. The team must work together to address any issues related to chronic pain with the common goal of decreasing pain and improving the patient’s functional performance.
Another question that most people ask is, does pain management mean getting pain meds?
Often the first step of pain management is medication. Medications include non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, opioids, etc. As we all know, all of these medications have side effects, sometimes causing chronic addiction. Prolonged use of many stated-above drugs can also cause liver damage, addiction/overdose, possible mood changes, confusion, depression, etc.
Did you know that 1.6 million Americans are struggling with opioid addiction? Those are alarming numbers, which is why more people are searching for natural pain relief options for pain management, such as Alternative Medicine treatments.
So, why choose non-pharmacological pain management (pain management without pain medications)?
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 92 million adults in the U.S. use prescription opioids, and 11.5 million adults misuse them. The growing number of overdose deaths due to opioids has prompted some of the most prominent medical organizations and agencies, such as the CDC, to support the greater use of non-pharmacological therapies for chronic pain. This means moving away from opioids as a first line of defense.
Some non-pharmacological approaches to treating pain include physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, exercise and stretching, relaxation techniques, heat, and other alternative medicine treatments.
Alternative medicine treatments are becoming more widely used as a natural pain management approach because of the low-to no-risk treatment. Another benefit of using Alternative Medicine treatments, such as acupuncture, for pain management is that there are no problems with addiction or overdose as with medications, such as opioids.
So why is proper pain management critical, and why is it important to treat pain?
Pain management is essential to improve the patient’s functionality. Allow them to perform their daily living and leisure activities and actively participate in life. Furthermore, chronic pain has a detrimental effect on the patient’s mental health.
Did you know that the most common cause of disability in the U.S. is chronic pain? According to the NIH (National Institute of Health), chronic pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. Therefore, addressing the person’s pain can significantly impact the person’s life, workforce productivity, and the economy in general.
To summarize this Pain Management Miramar [Part I] blog, understanding the root cause of the pain is crucial to developing an appropriate treatment plan. A thorough assessment, physical examination, and patient interview can guide the practitioner to better understand the patient’s complaint. Furthermore, it is essential to understand that pain management can go beyond medications and that Alternative Medicine treatments can be an option for patients.