At least 20 percent of US adults live with chronic pain that often restricts leisure or work activities, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That equates to about 50 million people with chronic pain, and about 8 percent of adults suffer from “high-impact chronic pain,” which can significantly affect a person’s quality of life. September marks the month of pain perception, an observation that should help raise awareness of the wide range of treatments that help chronic pain sufferers lead normal lives.
There are many causes of chronic pain that require thorough analysis by a family doctor and pain management specialists, such as those at the Miami Neuroscience Institute and the Marcus Neuroscience Institute, both of which are part of Baptist Health. Diseases can be the underlying cause of chronic pain, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. Persistent pain can also be due to serious health problems like cancer, multiple sclerosis, stomach ulcers, and even gallbladder disease.
Types of Chronic Pain
Chronic back pain is one of the most common conditions that requires treatment, said Moises Lustgarten, MD, director of pain management at the Miami Neuroscience Institute.
“But there are many other diseases that require pain therapy,” explains Dr. Pleasure garden. “Examples are acute neck and lower back pain, sickle cell crisis, acute abdominal pain (pancreatitis), cancer pain and pain after trauma / injury.”
Seif M. Elbualy, MD, director of interventional pain management at the Marcus Neuroscience Institute, says chronic low back pain is one of the most common complaints nationwide.
“This is one of the main causes of lost work days,” said Dr. Elbualy. “We also treat a lot of people with chronic neck pain. Certainly, many people also have sciatica or radicular pain. Radicular pain occurs when the pain radiates from an inflamed or compressed nerve root. For example pain in the back and hip that you can feel in your legs. “
The effects of the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase in chronic pain due to the pandemic as some patients postponed operations or doctor visits.
“There are several reasons for this increase in chronic pain, including failure to get medical help, an increased rate of obesity and sedentary lifestyle, a lack of outdoor activities and gym closures,” said Dr. Pleasure garden. “There is a significant association between obesity, sedentary lifestyle, lack of outdoor activities and chronic pain.”
Dr. Elbualy adds that there is reason to be optimistic as COVID vaccinations continue to spread.
“At first, many people were reluctant to seek medical care,” said Dr. Elbualy. “But when vaccines became common, we took these patients back in. Basically everything we do is outpatient, so the fear of hospitalization is reduced
What are the biggest misconceptions about patient pain management?
“There are many: that the pain becomes permanent, that there are no suitable options for treating pain, that all diseases require medication, that all medications used are addictive,” says Dr. Pleasure garden.
Dr. Elbualy adds that many patients believe that “treating pain equals narcotics” or opioid drugs. “In most cases we don’t look at that path,” he said.
Adding to the problem of chronic pain is the opioid epidemic, which has been sweeping the country for years and has put many prescribed pain medication under intense scrutiny and restriction. As a result, more and more doctors are referring patients to physical therapy programs and other alternative pain treatments.
“We offer several options, including the use of non-steroidal drugs. anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, physiotherapy, nerve blocks, implantable devices and opioids – if absolutely necessary, ”explains Dr. Pleasure garden.
The best approach will be to prevent or reduce medication, whether prescribed or over the counter, say pain therapists.
“We’re trying to focus on interventional options rather than adding more drugs to treating patients,” said Dr. Elbualy. “Conservative treatment certainly plays a role, including NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs” and physical therapy modalities. “