man suffering from back pain

Pain Management: Know Your Treatment Options for Acute and Chronic Pain

By Dr. Mehrtash Amini

Chronic pain can completely take over your life, causing a lack of energy, changes in appetite, mobility issues and much more. Because it doesn’t always have an obvious or easily identifiable cause, you may experience anxiety, depression and anger about the persistent pain that is constantly getting in the way of you living your life.

The truth is, treating chronic pain can be very complex, and sometimes the standard pain management treatments of surgery, or medication aren’t enough to achieve greater pain relief.

Your physician has access to an extensive number of some tools to determine the cause of your pain as well as the most effective approach to reduce or alleviate your pain and discomfort.

What is Pain Management?

Simply put, pain management is the process of reducing or alleviating pain. For mild to moderate pain, analgesic medications can be used, like aspirin.

For pain that is chronic or severe, a team of professionals may be needed for maximum pain relief.

Key Components to Approach Pain Management

  • A physical and detailed history
  • Testing that facilitates diagnosis
  • Shared, realistic goals of evaluation and further treatment
  • Development of a treatment plan
  • Flexibility in the modification of treatment based on periodic pain patient questioning and assessment
  • A pain specialist referral

By putting together a pain management plan, you’ll have better tools and expectations for the pain you’re experiencing. It is important that your plan fit your needs, takes into account alternative treatments and focuses on healing every part of you.

An Overview of Pain

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Whether your pain is due to physical damage to the body (nociceptive), damage or disease to of the nervous system (neuropathic) or a pain from an unknown origin complete mystery (idiopathic), pain professionals usually broadly categorize it as either acute or chronic.

Acute pain is generally short-term, lasting less than a month. Other simple characteristics to distinguish it include the following:

  • Commonly sudden, but definitely recent, onset
  • Often has an identifiable and obvious cause such as disease, injury or iatrogenic related (i.e. medication side effects or surgery)
  • Generally, intensity varies and is indicative of the severity of the underlying situation or condition

Whether your pain is due to physical damage to the body (nociceptive), damage or disease to of the nervous system (neuropathic) or a pain from an unknown origin complete mystery (idiopathic), pain professionals usually broadly categorize it as either acute or chronic.

Acute pain is generally short-term, lasting less than a month. Other simple characteristics to distinguish it include the following:

  • Often undetermined onset
  • May lack an obvious cause
  • Usually is the result of a chronic condition, disease or situation
  • Prolonged physical or psychological impairment
  • Behaviors such as depression, insomnia, irritability and anorexia may or may not be associated with it
  • Typically, more difficult and complex to manage than acute pain

Though it is unpleasant, paying attention to pain is crucial, as it is the body’s way of letting you know something is not right. If it is not properly managed or left untreated, both your quality of life and productivity can greatly diminished. The consequences not only affect your health, but also your job, family and hobbies.

If you’re like most people, you head straight to your primary care physician when you feel pain – which is absolutely the right thing to do. They will be able to begin an evaluation process of the pain.

Though primary care physicians treat over half of people suffering from chronic pain using medication to effectively provide relief, this is just one tool. For pain that remains uncontrolled and continues to persist, an interventional pain management is the way to go.

If your pain remains uncontrolled or you may need a team of professionals.

Assessing Pain

Defined as an unwanted experience associated with potential or actual tissue damage, pain is both an emotional and sensory experience that can completely take over your mind and body.

The challenge when it comes to handling pain is that only the person suffering from it can fully understand the experience. Clinicians know all too well that the same set of circumstances that cause little to no pain in one patient can cause significant pain in another. Because of this, treating the subjective and objective components of pain is essential.

This makes optimal treatment impossible without knowing the type, source, severity and impact of pain you are experiencing.

In order to get a thorough assessment of your situation, your doctor will gather information using one or more of the following:

  • Comprehensive patient history
  • Physical examination
  • Diagnostic tests

Once your doctor evaluates the data, they will be able to recommend a treatment plan for your unique situation.

Places like our BeWell Medical Clinic in North Vancouver offer walk-ins, so there’s no need to wait. If you have yet to see a licensed physician, visit us or make an appointment to see your own doctor immediately.

Pain Treatments

Though a person may never be free of pain, the focus of treatment is getting patients to the point where they are able to manage their condition independently. This means getting the most out of their everyday routines and reducing their discomfort along with any side effects and consequences treatment may have.

Medicine, though able to provide some form of pain relief, in many cases it is not enough and can cause side effects – especially when patients are dealing with chronic pain.

There are a number of alternative treatments to try that can help improve your quality of life.

Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger points are “knotted” muscle that occur when muscles don’t relax. Areas with trigger points are tender and can be quite painful.

This kind of therapy involves using a small needle to inject local anesthesia into the directly into the trigger point. The injection makes the trigger point inactive, relieving pain.

Trigger point injection therapy, or TPI, can be used to relieve pain in the lower back, neck, arms and legs, as well as for those suffering from myofascial pain syndrome, tension headaches or fibromyalgia.

In our experience, a course of TPI therapy results in sustained relief for our patients. Injections may be performed once a week, over the course of several weeks. When used as a maintenance treatment, it’s common to limit them to one session every 3 months.

Very safe, patients may feel tenderness at the injection site as the local anesthetic fades. It may take a few days for your body’s repairing system to kick in.

If other treatments have not improved your muscle pain, TPI therapy may be a good option. The main benefit of trigger point therapy is releasing muscle spasm, increasing blood circulation at the damaged area and dissolving old muscular scars which improve results and progress in physical rehabilitation.

You can talk to your doctor about it or schedule an evaluation at our office.

K-Laser Therapy

Also referred to as High Power Laser Therapy, this procedure uses light wavelengths to target damaged tissue, which has been found to accelerate the body’s healing process.

As the wavelengths of light pass through the skin and into the muscle cells, a process known as photobiostimulation begins. The body’s natural regenerative abilities are enhanced and the release of pleasing endorphins initiates and collagen production are stimulated. This gives damaged or injured tissue a chance to heal normalize.

The result of this safe and non-invasive technique is pain relief, accelerated healing; and reduced spasms, swelling and stiffness.

K-Laser therapy can stimulate every cell type. This includes ligaments, cartilage, nerves and soft tissue and can help all kinds of pain – acute, chronic, deep or superficial. This is why it is the reliable choice for the medical team here at our clinic, as well as thousands of healthcare practitioners throughout the world.

High power laser therapy is appropriate for any skin tone, body size and age group. It is so safe that pregnant women and the elderly can have this procedure with no worry of side effects or risks. Most patients report a relaxing, warm feeling and no recovery period. As long as this pain therapy treatment is administered by trained and experienced clinicians, like those at the BeWell Medical Clinic, it is safe and highly effective.

In as little as one treatment, many patients experience pain relief and are able to carry out daily activities without movement restrictions. The treatment is administered by a handheld device and the laser is placed directly over the affected area from 30 seconds to 9 minutes.

Conditions that respond well to K-Laser therapy are Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, headaches, Sciatica, back and neck pain, tendinitis, sprains, bruises, burns and contusions – and these are just a few. To see if this treatment option can help you, schedule an evaluation with one of our doctors today.

Pain Management is About Healing, Not Solely Pain Relief

There has been an emphasis on symptom relief instead of real healing for too long in the medical community. Thankfully, patients are becoming aware of pain management alternatives that are a welcome change to the standard remedies offered to them.

Remember that the goal is to take control back of your life and feel confident about completing your day to day activities, managing the ups and downs of pain symptoms as they come.

If you have been suffering from pain, you can’t get help unless you talk to a healthcare professional.

The daily struggle of living with acute or chronic pain can make finding relief very challenging, but we are here for you. Get in touch with BeWell today to find out if the treatment options at our clinic are right for you.

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BeWell Medical Clinic is open and operating under regular business hours. We are continuing to care for our patients by providing virtual appointments.

We are providing Telehealth appointments (e.g. telephone consults or virtual video consults) for all patients. Please call us to book or visit our website to book with your MyHealthAccess account. Telehealth visits can be particularly useful if you have travelled recently, you are self-isolating, you are a high risk patient (i.e. over 70, chronic health issues), have no need for physical examination, or if repeat prescriptions are needed. 

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