According to the International Association for the Study, chronic pain is defined as an “unpleasant sensory and emotional experience that is associated with tissue damage. Chronic pain can be intermittent and it can vary in intensity. There can be a known cause of the chronic pain such as inflamed joints, arthritis, surgery, injury, cancer, musculoskeletal pain, and neuropathic pain.
Musculoskeletal pain affects the muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments. It can be the result of a sports injury, motor vehicle accident, occupational injury, repetitive strain injury, arthritis, disease process, etc. Neuropathic pain is complex and multi faceted with no obvious cause. It can involve damaged tissue, malfunctioning nerve fibers, changes in brain processing, etc.
A pain clinic is equipped to determine the best course of action to reduce or eliminate your chronic pain. There are a number of strategies that can be implemented.
The pain clinic can prescribe a number of different pharmaceutical treatments that can be prescribed stand alone or in combination with other treatments.
• NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). These can be over the counter or prescription strength and include ibuprofen, naproxen, Motrin, Advil, Aleve, etc.
• Tylenol or other acetaminophen drugs
• Corticosteroids are prescribed cortisone drugs used for more severe inflammation.
• Antidepressants can be used to treat pain and promote sleep.
• Opioid pain medications are usually used for acute pain or cancer pain, but they are sometimes used for chronic pain.
Electrical Stimulation (TENS) – A form of electrical stimulation used in pain management the device stimulates the nerve fibers.
Injections – Local anesthetics may be combined with a corticosteroid and injected into muscles, joints, nerve roots to relieve swelling, irritation, muscle spasms, and pain.
Nerve blocks Injections with local anesthetics can be used to block the pain.
Physical and aquatic therapy – A physical therapist can tailor an exercise program built just for you to decrease pain and increase function. A pain clinic program might also include deep muscle massage, ultrasound, or whirlpool therapy.
Psychological Counseling – While pain is physical many people suffer emotionally with feelings of sadness, anger and hopelessness. After all, dealing with unrelenting pain affects many aspects of your life including your ability to maintain your home, work, and meet family obligations. Psychological support when combined with medical treatment(s) can help to improve management of chronic pain.
Relaxation techniques – Includes biofeedback or relaxation training to relieve pain and stress.
Surgery – Occasionally surgery is needed to relieve the problem causing pain. However, it should be a last resort when all other treatments don’t work or when the pain cannot be controlled unless the underlying condition is dealt with.
A Pain Clinic can be an invaluable resource. When dealing with chronic pain it can be very frustrating to not get results and to continue to suffer, and a pain clinic can change the outcome and help you become pain free.