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September is Pain Awareness Month

Situations Where a Pain Specialist Can Help You

Each September we celebrate National Pain Awareness Month. This year, we would like to share with our readers some situations when a pain specialist can help relieve your pain.

If you, or a loved one, live with pain, you may wonder:

“When is the best time to seek treatment and where do I to start?”

Pain treatments often start with a primary care doctor, who may offer you basic pain medications and recommend physical therapy. Sometimes, depending on the health issue, you may be under the care of an orthopedic surgeon, neurosurgeon, neurologist, or chiropractor.

If your pain does not start to improve over 3 to 4 weeks while under the care of another health professional, you should visit a pain specialist.

Pain specialists are doctors with special training in pain issues. They are highly qualified to find the cause of your pain and to offer the best, cutting-edge treatments. While some people think that pain specialists deal mostly with back pain, pain specialist actually treat a variety of pain issues.

Contact National Spine & Pain Centers to schedule an appointment with an affiliated pain specialist today.

Here are 7 situations you may not be aware of, where a pain specialist can help you:

1. CRPS - A Rare and Excruciating Condition

CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) is a rare condition usually caused by nerve damage in the arms or legs.

The original injury can be severe like a broken bone, or minor like a stubbed toe or even a twisted ankle. Symptoms may not appear right away but, in time, CRPS becomes extremely painful. There is tissue swelling, reddened or blanched skin color, muscle loss, and stiffness in the underlying joints. People with CRPS can experience extreme stress and this only increases their pain levels.

Pain specialists offer unique treatments for this unique condition. Sympathetic Nerve Blocks, Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS), IT Pump Implants (along with medications, physical therapy, and biofeedback) can improve CRPS symptoms. To read more, click here.

2. Cancer Pain

Cancer pain starts when tumors invade tissues and organs but may also arise from treatments like surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Keeping pain in check is an essential part of your treatment when you are fighting cancer. Pain specialists are an important part of a larger team of oncologists, radiologists, surgeons, rehab nurses, and therapists.

A close working relationship with a pain specialist is needed to control cancer pain early on. Early treatment can reduce the dose of strong medications that you have to take and prevents tolerance. (Tolerance occurs when medications stop working because they are taken too often).

Due to the severe and unrelenting quality of cancer pain, patients benefit from early and ongoing pain control. A pain specialist provides this type of pain control with long-acting pain medications, Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS), and Intrathecal (IT) Pain Pump implants. To read more, click here.

3. Sports Injuries

Incorrect technique, slow reaction times, fatigue, and poor coordination can cause sport injuries in both the professional athlete and the weekend warrior.

Sports injuries can happen suddenly, leading to acute pain or may develop over time, leading to chronic pain. These injuries may include rotator cuff tears, chronic plantar fasciitis, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, pelvic pain, back and neck injuries, tennis elbow, ankle sprains, etc.

In recent years, Regenerative Medicine has revolutionized the treatment of musculo-skeletal (muscle and bone) pain that is common in sports injuries. Regenerative procedures relieve pain by harnessing the body’s own ability to heal.

Pain specialists currently treat sport injury pain with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and Prolotherapy. Click here, to read more.

4. Chronic Pain After a Surgery

While it is normal to have acute pain after a surgery, long-term pain (chronic pain) is an undesirable and stressful event.

Chronic pain after a surgery starts with a trauma to the nerves, bones, muscles, or joints in the area where the surgery took place. Chronic pain does not necessarily mean that a mistake happened. Chronic pain can sometimes occur even when the surgery achieves its intended purpose.

For example, after a laminectomy a person may continue to have back pain even if the surgery was successful in removing pressure from the spine. Ongoing back pain may have new causes: traumatized muscles, irritated nerves, and newly-formed scar tissue. To read more about failed back surgery, click here.

Chronic pain can also appear after thoracic surgeries (i.e. lung surgery), knee replacements, amputations, or hernia repairs.

For chronic pain after surgery, a good approach is to try treatments that do not involve another surgery, with a pain specialist. This approach includes Nerve Blocks (nerve-numbing injections), Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS), Facet Joint Injections, and IT Pain Pump implants.

5. Pain in Children (Pediatric Pain Management)

Children are not miniature adults and this is especially true when it comes to treating their pain. Whether the pain is linked to an injury or a chronic illness, childrenmay have difficulty expressing their symptoms. They may lack an understanding of the required treatments and fear them.

Pain involving the muscles, bones, or joints is common in children and requires care form a pediatrician and/or a pediatric pain specialist.

Pediatric pain specialists work solely with children and know how to assess and treat their pain. Certain pain relief techniques are well suited for children. They include numbing the skin (Topical Analgesia), spine injections that take away pain in a desired body area (Caudal Epidurals), and numbing a nerve (Nerve Blocks).

6. Pain due to Nerves or Nervous System Diseases

The nervous system controls everything in the body: breathing, moving, sensing heat/cold, and being able to feel pain.

People have different types of nerves in the body. Some nerves control body activities, like blood pressure and digestion. Others control movement. The “sensory nerves” are a third type of nerves that allow you to feel pain and other sensations.

There are more than 100 different diseases that cause nerve damage. Some common ones are multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, stroke pain, and neuropathy (nerve pain due to shingles, HIV, diabetes).

Pain from a damaged nerve or a nervous system disease produces unique symptoms such as numbness, tingling or prickling, or burning.

In order to treat these symptoms you may need to see a neurologist to control the underlying illness, for example multiple sclerosis. Then, you should see a pain specialist for Nerve Blocks, SCS, IT Pain Pump, or medications for nerve pain.

7. Treatment for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

People who experience physical or emotional trauma during combat, violent attacks, car accidents, or other extreme situations can develop PTSD.

These people suffer from depression, anxiety attacks, flashbacks, and nightmares. They experience a physical “fight or flight” response even when there is no present danger. During a “flight or fight” response the body releases stress hormones (adrenaline) into the blood, causing a racing heart beat, trembling, sweating, and other unpleasant symptoms. Repeated “flight or fight” episodes can leave a person physically and mentally depleted.

In the past, treatment for PTSD centered on working with a therapist and taking antidepressants. Although both these treatments can help, not all people improve.

A Stellate Ganglion Block is a unique treatment that pain specialists provide to PTSD sufferers. It works by “turning off” a group of nerves from the neck that control the “flight or fight” response. To read more, click here.

Our affiliated pain specialists can work alongside your other doctors and therapists, to help you become pain-free. Click here for an appointment.

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