No Quick Fixes for Chronic Pain

‘I just want this pain to go away now!!!’

‘I have this nagging shoulder tension that bothers me all the time…. can you fix it?’

‘Whenever my chronic knee pain flares up, I just pop some Advil and wait till it goes away.’

These are comments often heard from clients when it comes to their bodies and how they deal with pain, tension, and discomfort. Understandably so, the discomfort and malaise of chronic pain issues feel like a nuisance and, in exasperation, clients want their issues resolved NOW and QUICKLY. I am grateful to have the privilege to change their mentality on the ‘quick-fix’ solution. 

Culturally, we live in a fast-pacedworld that feeds and indulges our immediate gratification on a daily basis. We have instant information at our fingertips via the Internet, buy food at restaurants and groceries at supermarkets within walking or driving distance from our homes, connect with friends and family instantaneously with our cellphones no matter where you are, and multitudes of medications to immediately solve any medical problem out there.

A broken leg, and the acute pain it causes, can often be treated relatively quickly, says Perry Fine, MD, a pain specialist at the University of Utah. But chronic pain is more akin to bigger problems like diabetes or advanced cancer, which can’t be so quickly or easily “fixed.”

The goal when treating chronic pain isn’t necessarily to become pain-free. Instead, the target is often a good quality of life while managing pain at a tolerable level.

“What’s important is for people in chronic pain to communicate … with their doctor, and let them know what their pain level is that keeps them from doing certain things,” Fine says. “For example, ‘My pain is keeping me from sleeping, going to work, and getting around and walking.’ Then talk to the practitioner about establishing specific, measurable goals such as being able to vacuum, go to work, have sex, and get to sleep.”

To reach these goals, doctors may try:

  • Medication that address pain from different angles. For example, antidepressantscan help “calm down” the nervous system and make it less sensitive to the pain, Fine says. The anti-seizure drugs gabapentin and pregabalin can also be effective for certain types of nerve pain.
  • Injecting anesthetic or steroids into injured areas.
  • Doing surgery to treat the source of pain. This includes joint replacements, repairing damaged discs in the spine, or taking pressure off a pinched nerve.

Your doctor may also suggest that you work with a physical or occupational therapist. You may also want to seek answers to the mental components of pain rather than just the physical side, Fine says.

Chronic Pain Statistics

Pain is the TOP Cause of Disability in U.S.

The following Statistics pertain to the Prescription Pain Pill epidemic:

• More Americans now die from drug overdoses than in car accidents, according to a new government report released last December. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/managing-your-healthcare/articles/2011/12/20/drug-overdoses-kill-more-americans-than-car-accidents-cdc

• Abuse of the drugs has been tied to overdose deaths, burglary of pharmacies and increased crime nationally.

• Prescription drugs are the second-most abused category of drugs in the United States, following marijuana. http://www.painmed.org/patientcenter/facts_on_pain.aspx

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