Understanding Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is an ambiguous area of medicine. The most generalized and simple definition of chronic pain is any kind of pain that lasts longer than 6 months.

WebMD offers a bit more detail regarding the nature of chronic pain, “chronic pain can be mild or excruciating, episodic or continuous, merely inconvenient or totally incapacitating. With chronic pain, signals of pain remain active in the nervous system for months or even years. This can take both a physical and emotional toll on a person.”

Most chronic pain cases occur after a traumatic event such as a car accident, a fall, or an infection. Yet, it can also arise in persons who have not experienced any type of pain. Oftentimes, this type of chronic pain is diagnosed as Fybromyalgia, which “is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues.”

Types of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is one of the most difficult types to diagnose. Simply put, any type of pain that lasts over six months can be categorized as chronic, yet not all chronic pain shows in the same symptoms or should be treated the same way. Therefore, it’s important to learn how to identify common chronic pain. Even though it covers a broad spectrum, there are common types of pain that are generally chronic including:

  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Backaches
  • Pain caused by an injury
  • Tendinitis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Sinus pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Pelvis pain
  • Nerve or muscle damage

An Introduction to Interventional Pain Management

The Basics

The American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP) describes interventional pain management as “a ‘discipline of medicine devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of pain related disorders.'” Yet, interventional pain management incorporates a much more diverse array of techniques. It distinguishes itself from other forms of pain management due to its multidisciplinary approach. Instead of focusing all efforts on one form of treatment with one provider, this type of pain management integrates varying forms of medicinal support for a more comprehensive treatment style.

Spine Universe goes on to explain that the goals of, “interventional pain management are to relieve, reduce, or manage pain and improve a patient’s overall quality of life through minimally invasive techniques specifically designed to diagnose and treat painful conditions.”

In short, interventional pain management focuses on the patient’s ability to return to normal everyday life rather than forcing them to take part in continual invasive procedures that keep them confined to a hospital or indoors.

Getting Started

The first appointment is similar to the first appointment with a general practitioner. The Interventional Pain Management specialist will perform a full physical, will ask for a full medical history, and will question you about any current or past treatments, prescriptions, and medications. The doctor will also request previous documents from doctor’s offices or hospitals that relate to your chronic pain, such as x-rays, test results, or documents.

Your interventional pain management specialist may also perform diagnostic tests to rule out other conditions that may present similar symptoms. These tests may include x-rays, CT scan, MRI, and possibly blood tests.

Your Management Team

As stated previously, interventional pain management focuses on multidisciplinary treatments from various sectors of the medical field. This means patients will receive guided support for not only chronic pain and ailments, but also their mental, work, and personal life health. The team is headed by your primary care physician, who is also usually an interventional pain management specialist.

Another distinguishing factor of interventional pain management is the focus and attention given to the patient as a resource of information. Treatments are only as successful as their ability to return the patient to their normal, pain-free lifestyle. Interventional pain management places responsibility on the patient to provide critical and useful feedback regarding all forms of treatment taking place.

Established by Dr. Wieman Kretz in the 1960’s, Hampton Roads Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine provides quality orthopaedic services and care for the east coast area of Hampton Roads. With a highly trained staff, HR Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine prides itself on investment in the newest and most innovative knowledge for the best healthcare possible. For more information or to schedule your appointment please feel free to contact us.