Many people are unaware of the many treatments available from a pain management doctor. Some think they just hand out pills and send you on your way. Fact is, they find out the root cause of the pain in an effort not to just treat it, but to give the patient a chance for an active life. This medical specialty covers all aspects of chronic pain conditions.
Fibromyalgia is a condition that is routinely referred for treatment to this particular medical specialty. Since fibromyalgia is not completely understood, most primary care doctors aren’t sure what to do for the treatment of this diagnosis. When the condition appears to be taking its toll on the life of a patient, the family doctor will often refer their patient elsewhere for treatment. Once under the care of the specialty physician, a plan is created by both doctor and patient to determine which route for treatment will be followed. Among some of the most commonly used options are drugs, such as Lyrica and Savella, both FDA approved for use in fibromyalgia, and physical therapy techniques, which can aid in reducing pain.
Other conditions primary care doctors will send to the specialist include those pertaining to chronic back pain. Some of the problems therein are herniated discs, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease and arthritic conditions in the area. These can make it difficult for a person to navigate normally throughout the course of the day. Pain caused by these conditions can make it hard to stand up for too long. They often make exercise, walking, sitting and driving a car prohibitive activities due to uncontrolled pain. For these patients, in addition to medications prescribed to deal with excessive pain, there are trigger point injections, called TPI. These injections deliver local anesthetics to points along the spine in which tender spots of muscle that feel like knots or bands spread pain throughout the area anytime they are touched or manipulated in any way. These points can be caused by injury or spinal abnormality. The injection contains local anesthetic and may also deliver doses of corticosteroids, saline and dextrose. The effects from these injections are twofold. First, the anesthetic works to dull pain, while corticosteroids tame inflammation. Secondly, the act of inserting the needle, along with the force of the fluids being injected, serves to loosen and relax muscles that may be in spasm.
Any painful condition that primary care doctors are unable to diagnose on their own or who finds the treatment they have prescribed for their patient fails to give relief, the referral for specialty care may be given. Doctors who specialize in relieving pain often have a set of rules all patients must abide by, particularly if the specialist has decided on the use of narcotic pain medication. A legal agreement or contract will often be drawn up in the pain clinic. Within this agreement, the patient must promise not to seek out any other physician for the purpose of obtaining a prescription for pain medication. In the event of an accident or other emergency that may necessitate the use of narcotics, the patient must agree, if able, to report to the emergency physician the fact that they are under a specialist’s care. The emergency doctor, if time permits, should then contact your pain doctor before administering any narcotics. Exceptions to the rule are applied when the emergency condition is a life or death situation or when you are not conscious and are unable to communicate the fact that you are under a pain contract.
It is important to realize that many chronic pain conditions cannot be cured. What most pain management doctors work hard to achieve is giving the patient a sense of control over it. If you are able to resume most activities and your pain isn’t your first thought every morning or your last one every night, you are a success story in pain management.