Between 18% and 34% of American adults have chronic pain. Some of the most common causes are arthritis, fibromyalgia, a long-lasting injury, and cancer. At Your Family Medical in Bedford, TX, we offer a comprehensive pain management program that involves various treatments and lifestyle adjustments. Read on to find out more about the program and to determine whether it’s a good fit for you.
How Does Pain Management Work?
Our program is tailored to each individual. It might involve continued monitoring of the situation, one or more treatments, and lifestyle adjustments. We always start by inviting patients to the clinic for an initial consultation. During this meeting, we discuss the person’s medical history and current symptoms. We might ask them about the cause of their pain, how long they’ve been suffering, and how it affects their life.
Based on this conversation, we come up with a comprehensive treatment plan that might involve injections, PRP treatment, minimally invasive surgery, diet changes, and a new exercise routine. Every aspect of the management program is customizable. Some patients only need help temporarily, while others keep coming back to the clinic for many years.
What Is Considered Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for more than three months. It can be caused by a range of physical and mental health issues, and it often results in distress, frustration, and a lack of enjoyment of life. Sometimes, chronic pain is temporary, and it disappears once the patient has recovered from their injury or medical condition. At other times, it is permanent, and the patient has to live with it for many years or even decades.
Why Does Chronic Pain Need To Be Addressed?
It’s important to address chronic pain as soon as possible because it can have a detrimental effect on a person’s life. Patients suffering from constant discomfort often have trouble participating in activities they used to enjoy and performing well at work. They might also struggle to build up and maintain healthy relationships because their pain affects their mood and mental health.
When someone develops chronic pain, they withdraw from social situations. Over time, they might become more anxious and depressed. Studies have shown that around 80% of people with severe chronic pain also suffer from depression. Some people develop chronic fatigue because their pain prevents them from going to sleep. It’s important to address pain as soon as possible to prevent long-term consequences.
What Are the Treatment Options?
We offer a wide range of treatment options at the clinic. During your initial consultation, we analyze your health issues and discuss some options. Then, we come up with a treatment plan. Every few weeks, we meet with you to discuss how you’ve been feeling and whether the plan is working. If there are any changes, you can let us know, and we’ll adjust our strategy.
Steroids are similar to hormones that come from your adrenal gland, and they control your inflammatory response in several ways. They might inhibit the release of certain chemicals that activate nerve fibers and therefore cause pain. They also reduce spontaneous nerve signals and limit the production of inflammatory pain mediators.
The effect of steroid injections is usually temporary, so patients have to come back to the clinic every six weeks to two months. Although steroids aren’t considered dangerous, they aren’t meant to be used for many years. We usually advise patients to work with a physical therapist, who can help them address the root cause of their pain.
A nerve block is an injection that turns off a certain nerve and therefore prevents the patient from feeling pain. It is used as a temporary measure that reduces the patient’s symptoms while their tissues heal from an acute injury. The active ingredient is either an anesthetic or an anti-inflammatory substance. Sometimes, imaging guidance is used to make sure the nerve block is administered to the correct area.
Unfortunately, the effects of nerve blocks wear off quite quickly. Patients might only get relief for one to two days at a time, so they need to come back to the clinic frequently. This treatment is used to address acute flare-ups that can’t be managed with lifestyle changes. It can be administered at the same time as a steroid injection. Steroids take a few days to start working, but a nerve block provides immediate relief.
Kyphoplasty or Vertebroplasty
People who have chronic pain due to a problem with their spinal column sometimes need to have surgery. Kyphoplasty involves re-shaping a broken or crumbled vertebra and filling the space inside it with stabilizing material. Vertebroplasty is very similar and has the same goal, but the method is slightly different because a balloon catheter is used.
These two surgeries are highly effective, and the outcome is almost always positive. They are both minimally invasive, so the patient doesn’t have to spend several days at the hospital. After the procedure, patients almost always experience a reduction in their painful symptoms, and they are once again able to participate in physical activities.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatment
Platelet-rich plasma is a substance derived from the patient’s blood. This injectable treatment is gentle and doesn’t involve the injection of dangerous chemicals, so it’s appropriate for almost every patient. It can address temporary causes of pain like injuries as well as permanent issues like arthritis.
Unlike some of the other treatments, the results of PRP last for many months at a time. Because the substance comes from a natural source, it can be administered for many years without any adverse side effects.
Effective pain management involves lifestyle changes as well as medical treatment. During your initial consultation, we ask you about your lifestyle. If you eat unhealthy foods, smoke, drink too much alcohol, or are frequently stressed, we might suggest making some changes. It’s unlikely that your symptoms will improve unless you eat well, drink plenty of water, avoid harmful substances, and reduce your stress levels.
Sometimes, making positive changes is extremely hard for people who are in constant pain. You might not feel like exercising, especially if it makes your symptoms worse. We’ll help you find exercise methods that don’t trigger your pain or make you feel exhausted.
Can Treatments Be Combined?
A good management program consists of several treatments. We almost always combine two or more of the above-named methods to help patients achieve the desired results. Some of our treatments are temporary, while others can be used for many years.
In addition to medical treatments and lifestyle changes, we might recommend physical therapy or gentle exercise. Often, chronic pain improves after the patient addresses postural issues and muscular imbalances.
Am I a Good Candidate?
Anyone who suffers from chronic pain is a good candidate for our management program. As mentioned, we tailor our methods to each person’s unique needs. During the initial consultation, we review the person’s medical records to determine which of our treatments are safe for them. We work with patients of all ages and backgrounds.
How Often Do I Need To Come to the Clinic?
The frequency of treatment depends on the kind of pain you have and the methods we’ve chosen. If you’re getting steroid injections, you need to see us every six to eight weeks.
PRP treatment might be administered once a month for up to six months. After that, patients typically come for their maintenance appointments once or twice a year. Kyphoplasty or vertebroplasty are one-time operations, so patients might not need treatment again once they’ve recovered from these minimally invasive surgeries.
How Long Does Treatment Last?
We are happy to treat you for as long as necessary. If you’re in pain due to an injury, you might only need to come to the clinic for a few months. Once your injury has healed, you no longer suffer from painful symptoms. However, you might need to see us for many years if you have a chronic condition like arthritis or fibromyalgia. Often, these diseases can be managed with PRP injections, but sometimes, surgery is necessary.
Let Us Help You Manage Your Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is extremely common, and it affects millions of people every year. Left untreated, this issue affects the patient’s physical and mental health. It might prevent them from performing well at their job, building up strong relationships, and enjoying their favorite activities. Get in touch with us at Your Family Medical in Bedford, TX to find out more about our comprehensive pain management program.