Chronic pain treatment is a unique and complicated thing. Because pain is experienced differently by different people with a complex mix of factors that are physical, emotional, and psychological, it is difficult if not impossible to set one course of action for patients.
Pain doctors must carefully evaluate the patient to determine the best course of action, a course that may be radically different even for patients with the same conditions. Fortunately, pain doctors across the country are doing it right, focusing on interventional technologies that are holistic and comprehensive.
Richard Rosenquist, M.D., chair of the American Society of Anesthesiologists® (ASA®) committee on pain medicine and chairman of the department of pain management at the Anesthesiology Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, recognizes the importance of seeking out chronic pain treatment with a pain doctor who believes in using the latest tools for pain management, saying:
“Pain is one of the most challenging things to treat because its source can be elusive. That’s why it’s vital to see a physician specializing in pain medicine who can help identify the source of the pain and suggest which pain method might work best, including the more recent technical advances.”
Some of the latest technologies for chronic pain treatment include:
- Radiofrequency (RF) ablation: This technique uses electrical currents to heat nerves that send pain signals. This current blocks pain signals for up to a year.
- Blocks: Pain doctors use X-rays to guide very thin needles as they administer numbing agents into the affected nerves. This chronic pain treatment may include a series of injections, or one injection alone may offer relief.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): The mechanism in the body that allows this treatment to work is not well-understood, but the result is what is important. A TENS unit sends small electrical pulses through the nerves, either interrupting the transmission of pain signals or triggering the brain to release endorphins (or both).
- Spinal cord stimulation (SCS): Spinal cord stimulation offers the same type of electrical stimulation but is typically used in more difficult-to-treat or refractory pain. A small device is implanted in the back. This device is connected to thin wires that run along the spinal cord. Patients replace the sensation of pain with another feeling, typically described as a tingling or massage-like feeling.
- High frequency spinal cord stimulation: This implant uses a higher frequency of electrical pulse that may offer more (and longer-lasting) relief for chronic low back and leg pain.
- Pain pumps: Generally offered for cancer pain, pain pumps allow a chronic pain patient to deliver anesthetics, narcotics, or other medicines directly to the spinal cord when necessary. This can be a good option for patients who have experienced side effects or who are not experiencing timely relief with oral medications.
The above are commonly used chronic pain treatment advances, but there are two other promising options that are undergoing further research or are being brought to market soon.
- Stem cells: Overcoming the previously controversial nature of stem cell harvesting, researchers are now using a patient’s own stem cells to create treatments that are specifically targeted for each patient. This treatment is currently being studied for many different types of conditions including chronic pain and traumatic brain injury.
- Ibuprofen patches: These high-dose, continuous-release transdermal patches are safer than oral ibuprofen, which can cause heart attack, stroke, and serious gastrointestinal side effects. These patches should be available to consumers in 2017.
Many Pain Doctor clinics are proud to offer all of these approved treatment options for our patients. Our goal is to help every patient we see get back to a healthy, pain-free life as soon as possible. Joe Carlon, CEO of Pain Doctor, explained Pain Doctor’s mission this way:
“Ultimately, we want patients to not only understand that we’re there to help educate themselves about their condition, their treatment, and find a physician that can help, but we’re also there to help financially.”
To that end, in 2015 Pain Doctor, in partnership with the Arizona Pain Foundation, created the hashtag #PainDoctorCares and launched a contest to give one pain patient $5,000 to help offset the cost of treatment.
In addition to helping offset the financial aspects of treatment, Pain Doctor is committed to helping pain patients all across the country find a qualified doctor in their area. Our doctor search tool is easy to use and can help pain patients locate a qualified, holistic doctor near them.
Pain Doctor understands that chronic pain treatments are more than procedures and medications. We strive to offer other types of patient support, including online forums, social media platforms, and this blog for education and practical tips for living with pain. For the 100 million people in the U.S currently living with pain, this relationship with and support from your pain doctor can be a crucial part of treatment.
Comprehensive, holistic chronic pain treatment is not possible without the active participation of the pain patient. Patients who are educated and involved in their own treatment are more likely to experience more relief than those patients who rely solely on the doctor.
Pain Doctor believes in fostering a relationship that recognizes what is important in the patient’s life. We want to offer chronic pain treatments that help patients do what they love as quickly as possible. In addition to helping patients with the latest in chronic pain treatment advances, we are also strong supporters of complementary therapies, including massage, chiropractic care, and acupuncture. Our doctors and staff can also provide support in your weight loss and fitness journey, two crucial parts of pain treatment for many people.
For us, #PainDoctorCares means treating our patients the way we would like our own family members to be treated. What does it mean to you?