Health & Wellbeing
Pain Management – How Doctors Treat Chronic Pain
There are two basic types of pain – acute (short-lived) pain, and chronic (long-term) pain.
The treatment option that will work best for you depends to some extent on several factors – whether your pain is acute or chronic, how severe your pain is, and how you respond to different types of pain treatment.
Acute pain – which in most cases is caused by tissue damage from disease or injury – is most often first treated directly, by helping to heal the source of the pain. If you break your leg, for example, the doctor’s first step is to set the broken bones and do everything possible to help the leg heal. The same is true of many forms of disease. For example, if you have a cancer that is causing pain, the first step (if possible) is to remove the tumor so that it isn’t destroying nearby tissues and continuing to cause pain.
In some cases, however, direct treatment doesn’t always eliminate all of the pain, and it becomes chronic. So a secondary approach to the treatment of pain is to block the pain, to prevent the nerve impulses that are really causing the pain from reaching the brain.
Different types of pain may be treated in completely different ways, and using very different methodologies. Treatments that are effective at managing one type of pain may not work on another type.
Basic pain treatments
Acute pain can often be effectively treated using a combination of the two approaches discussed above. First, the doctors do everything they can to remove or repair the damaged tissues so that they are no longer sending out as many pain signals to the brain.
But because full healing can take some time, doctors supplement direct treatment of the illness or injury as necessary with treatment options to block the nerve impulses that are still being generated from reaching the brain. If the nerve impulses can be prevented from reaching the brain, it can’t receive them and interpret them as pain.
Thus basic pain treatment includes:
- Repairing the source of the pain.
- Prescribing rest and dietary changes to help the body heal itself.
- Exercise and physical therapy, to help damaged tissues heal faster.
- Topical heat or cold treatments, applied externally.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as Ibuprofen) to block nerve impulses traveling to the brain, so you don’t experience them as pain.
- Opioid-based drugs are sometimes prescribed for the most extreme acute pain, such as that experienced following surgery, burns, and broken bones.
There are many cases in which the treatments discussed above just don’t seem to work. They eliminate some of the pain, some of the time. But the person is still left experiencing pain on a regular basis, sometimes every day. Researchers estimate that chronic pain that doesn’t fully respond to treatment costs America 560 to 635 million dollars per year in treatment costs, lost wages, and missed days of work.
In some cases, chronic pain that doesn’t respond to treatment can result in intractable pain – pain so continuous and so intense that it can destroy a person’s quality of life and will to live. Intractable pain can cause a person to become bed-ridden, and puts him or her at a much higher risk of early death.
The interventional pain management procedures we specialize in at MTV IR may offer help to those dealing with chronic or intractable pain. In many cases these advanced treatments can help people to “get their lives back” from chronic pain, and once again maintain their daily activities and an active quality of life. To learn more about MTV IR’s Pain Management procedures follow this link Pain Management