For millions of Americans dealing with chronic pain, finding relief is usually not a simple process. Depending on the cause, it may take pursuing several different courses of treatment to find the right combination to alleviate pain. Designing a pain management plan with the help of your doctor and other healthcare providers can help you keep pain under control and stop it from interfering with your daily activities.
What is Pain Management?
Simply put, pain management refers to the diagnosis and treatment of pain. For chronic pain sufferers, that means finding relief for pain that is ongoing, recurring or lasts longer than the expected duration of healing. Understanding the cause of pain is integral to developing the proper pain management plan. Chronic pain can stem from a variety of conditions, illnesses and injuries and is grouped into four categories by the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement:
- Inflammatory pain caused by conditions like arthritis, tissue injury or complications arising from surgery;
- Mechanical/compressive pain resulting from fractures, disc degeneration or tissue compression caused by tumors or cysts;
- Muscle pain often caused by injury or repetitive motions, especially in places like the lower back, hips, shoulders and neck;
- Neuropathic, or nerve-related, pain resulting from nerve damage or disease. Sciatica is one example of a neuropathic pain condition.
Once the cause of your pain is identified, your healthcare providers, which may include a pain management doctor or specialist, can evaluate the next steps for pain management.
What Does a Pain Management Doctor Do?
Your first step to treating pain is to bring it to your primary care physician’s attention. Depending on the cause and diagnosis, you may be referred to a physical therapist, or even to a specialist such as a pain management doctor to provide advanced pain treatment.
Pain management doctors design your personal course of pain management with a step-wise approach, starting with medications, such as anti-inflammatories, pain-numbing injections or therapeutic electrical stimulation with devices like BioWaveGO. If these methods do not effectively get pain under control, your pain management doctor may recommend interventional procedures like radiofrequency ablation or implanting a pain pump or spinal cord stimulator.
To evaluate and treat your pain, your pain management doctor will discuss your symptoms and review your medical history, the list of medications you take, and any prior diagnostic studies like MRIs, X-rays and CT scans. Keeping a pain journal may assist you with articulating pain patterns to your doctors so he or she can better assist with your pain management plan.
Applying Pain Management to Your Everyday Life
Once you have your pain management plan in place, you can apply the treatments and techniques as prescribed by your physician, pain management doctor or physical therapist to your daily life. Depending on the root cause and severity of your pain, your pain management plan may include steps such as:
- Physical therapy exercises and stretches to improve mobility, strengthen muscles and minimize discomfort when moving;
- Watching what you eat to avoid foods that trigger an inflammatory response;
- Taking painkillers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as needed to alleviate pain;
- Applying heating pads or ice to sore areas to lessen pain;
- Getting massage therapy, which is especially helpful to alleviate muscle pain.
And now, it’s more accessible than ever to add therapeutic electrical stimulation to that list with BioWaveGO. BioWaveGO is a wearable device that blocks pain at the source. *Results show that for 80% of patients, BioWave technology provides relief from chronic low back pain for up to 24 hours post treatment. Learn more and try BioWaveGO risk-free for 30 days.
*Learn more about BioWave’s disclaimers and clinical studies here.