Chronic Pain Management Strategies are Changing
As we face the opioid crisis, physicians have become either prolific prescribers of pain medication or reluctant to prescribe any pain medication at all, even for patients who have chronic pain. While physicians struggle to maintain a level of compassionate care without succumbing to the role of a legal drug pusher, those patients who choose to abuse opioids can do so without the consent or cooperation of their physician due to a secondary (and illegal) market.
Chronic pain is defined as pain which lasts more than three months. Chronic pain is generally caused by three sources: injury, an illness (such as cancer) or a nerve condition such as neuropathy or fibromyalgia. Regardless of the cause, a lot of us are in pain: it is estimated that almost a third of the population suffers from chronic pain, over 100 million people.
Chronic pain affects patients in many ways. Some stop being able to do the things which previously brought them joy. They tend to retreat, become sedentary, and spend more time in isolation. It may affect their job, their family life, their social life, and their health beyond the scope of the cause of their pain. They become depressed, lose sleep, and struggle to be able to think clearly. They are forced to rearrange their lives around their pain and pain management.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way.
A new type of patient is emerging
Patients with chronic pain are fighting back. Many people are adverse to becoming dependent on opioids and like the control of being in charge of their pain management rather than risk addiction. By learning to use alternatives to opioids to manage their pain successfully, patients can reclaim their social, professional, and personal lives. They regain their health and find balance and peace.
Combining effective therapeutic strategies
Pain management is generally a multi-pronged approach. Each patient requires a different approach to find a balance which will work in their particular circumstances. Patience through trial and error will bring substantive relief. Here are some of the tools which have proved to be successful:
Like the woman in the blog post we offered a few weeks ago, some people don’t know they have pain which physical therapy can alleviate. They can suffer for weeks or months and believe that nothing except pain killers will fix the pain, or that it’s something which they have to live with. It’s only when they seek treatment that they realize there is effective relief.
Massage doesn’t just feel great: by manipulating muscles and tissues, circulation is increased, and the lymphatic and nervous systems are adjusted as well. Relaxation triggers self-healing mechanisms which improves mood and movement.
Mindfulness meditation and relaxation therapy
While pain is never ‘all in your head,’ how a person responds to it can range from anxiety to stress, to deep depression. By helping a patient learn to control their responses, pain -- even chronic pain -- becomes more manageable.
Learning to manage chronic pain is not always simple, however, don’t give up! With some coping tools and having a team of practitioners who are eager to help, patients now have more options than a pain-filled existence or long term dependence on opioids. The essential thing is the willingness to seek a positive outcome, both for pain management and on the wellness of the body as a whole.
If you are looking for occupational or physical therapy, vestibular rehab, wheelchair training, learning to walk, unweighting, or other services in the Phoenix area, please call Touchstone Rehabilitation at 602-277-1073.