Pain can affect anyone at any age. Pain is broadly classified as acute and chronic. Acute pain is usually the result of a condition such as a surgery or accident and therefore temporary in nature. Chronic pain, on the other hand, is persistent and includes headache, low back pain, pain caused by cancer, arthritic pain, joint and muscle pain, and more. Prolonged treatment may be necessary. Pain management specialists at multi-specialty health care centers prescribe different kinds of treatments to relieve pain.
Multidisciplinary Approach to Pain Relief Treatment
In a multi-specialty health care center, the pain management specialist works in coordination with several other health care professionals. The team would include physical therapists, neurologists, orthopedic specialists, chiropractors, and others. The patient is thoroughly evaluated and the cause of the pain is determined. Then an individualized treatment program is drawn up. The treatments available at a reliable center would include:
• Exercise: Physical therapy exercises serve to move the joints, preserve function and lessen pain. Depending on the patient’s condition, different types of exercises may be prescribed, such as strengthening exercises to improve muscle strength, range-of-motion exercises to stretch the joints and endurance exercises for optimal heart function.
• Medication: Analgesics (or pain killers) and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) have an important role in the treatment. NSAIDS are prescribed for arthritis pain and inflammation. Analgesics help diminish pain by controlling the pain transmission mechanism. Narcotic medications, muscle relaxants, anti-convulsants and antidepressants may also be prescribed.
• Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): Clinical studies show that patients suffering from chronic pain have lower than normal endorphin levels. TENS offers good relief as it involves electrical stimulation of the nerve endings to activate the endorphin systems. It is a highly effective back pain treatment.
• Prolotherapy: This method of treating chronic pain relies on the power of the body to heal itself. An “irritant” solution is injected into the area where the ligaments and tendons have been damaged to stimulate new tissue growth and relieve pain.
• Radiofrequency radio ablation: Chronic arthritic related back pain can be treated using this modality. Radio frequency energy delivered to the affected area destroys the nerve tissue responsible for the pain.
• Surgically implanted electrotherapy devices: Special stimulators are implanted to provide electrical stimulation to the nerves and spinal cord and nerves and decrease the sensation of pain.
• Injections: Epidural steroid injections are administered to patients suffering from lower back pain. Anti-inflammatory medication is injected directly into the affected area or nerve.
• Manual techniques: Gentle massage and manipulation of the affected areas can provide great relief for pain in certain areas.
Successful Coordination Ensures Optimal Results
A pain management specialist is usually seen by referral from a physician. Besides the treatments mentioned above, behavioral and cognitive therapy may be recommended to help patients relax and learn to deal with the pain. Chronic pain management requires a coordinated approach for success and the right multi-specialty health care center can provide this. It is also very important that the patient co-operates and works proactively with the specialist to ensure optimal results.