Pain is your body’s natural way of saying that something is wrong with your body. It is usually caused by inflammation, an infection, injury, disease, or medical treatments like surgery. Whatever the cause, modern technology, and improved pain management procedures eliminate the need for you to tolerate severe or chronic pain. Pain management specialists like Dr. Patrick S. McNulty specialize in alleviating your pain so you can live a happy, active, pain-free life. Here is a look at five approaches they might take.
If your pain is mild, your doctor may start your pain management treatment with OTC medications like Tylenol or NSAIDs like ibuprofen and aspirin. You may need stronger medications like muscle relaxants or opioids if your pain persists. These painkillers are usually prescribed for a short period and under strict observation and instruction due to the increased risk of abuse and addiction.
If you have a joint problem with symptoms of inflammation and swelling, your provider may administer steroid injections to the joint. Similarly, epidural injections are used to deliver painkillers to the epidural space to relieve lower back pain or spinal stenosis. Another possible drug therapy treatment is a nerve block. This is the injection of medication into a group of nerves to block pain signals.
Nearly every pain management regimen includes some physical therapy. This is where your doctor develops a series of exercises and movements to improve function and mobility. Usually, your physical therapy treatment will involve pain-relieving, strengthening, and stretching techniques that focus on your flexibility, strength, and muscle tone. The cumulative effect of these exercises is reduced pain. Exercise also boosts the release of endorphins, also called natural pain relievers.
Trigger Point Injections
During this treatment, your provider will deliver a local anesthetic that may contain a steroid to different trigger points in your body. A trigger point can be an area of inflamed muscle or a knot of muscle formed through muscle contraction. When the medicine is delivered to this area, it inactivates the trigger point alleviating your pain. This form of treatment is most commonly used to address myofascial pain syndrome, tension headaches, fibromyalgia, and limb, neck, and back pain.
If all other therapies fail to improve your pain, your doctor may recommend surgical implants – though this is very rare. You may receive infusion pain pumps in a treatment called intrathecal drug delivery. Essentially, your doctor creates a large enough pocket under your skin to house a medicine pump that delivers medication such as muscle relaxants or morphine to the spinal cord. Alternatively, you may receive spinal cord stimulation, in which implants deliver low-level electrical signals to specific nerves or your spinal cord to interrupt the transmission of pain signals to the brain.
Some providers may also include one or two alternative therapies in your pain management regimen. Common options include mind-body therapy, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, and osteopathic manipulation therapies.
Chronic pain treatments are very diverse and can often be customized to the cause of your pain. Your pain management specialist will usually go through different approaches to find one that best alleviates your discomfort. In most cases, they may settle on a regimen comprising a combination of two or three treatments. You can learn more by contacting a pain specialist today.