An estimated 70 million Americans suffer from chronic and acute pain. Chronic pain is a major medical condition distinctly different and more complex than acute pain. While acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert one to possible injury, chronic pain is a state in which pain persists for many months or years, beyond the normal course required by healing of an injury. The economic and personal losses associated with chronic pain can be significant, including costly medical expenses, lost income and productivity; lost mobility, anxiety or depression.
The causes of chronic pain are not always clear. Past traumatic injuries, congenital conditions, cancers, arthritis, and others might point to an obvious culprit, but in many cases the source of chronic pain can be very complex. This makes it difficult to treat, and pain treatment usually does not involve one approach, but a multidisciplinary focus designed to help the patient reach his or her highest level of function and independence.
It is a clear issue that long term opioid usage has diminishing returns. We seek to treat acute pain and chronic issues with different modalities. Not just medication. Treating pain is not a one size fits all approach. Just because a patient has always had a certain medication doesn't mean it stands up to todays standards. Medications will be reviewed and changed as necessary. In addition pain will not be treated without a plan. This plan will include diagnostic studies to assess the current pain issues. If warranted, surgery may be a better alternative and recommendations with referrals will be made.
Mark J. Ernst PA-C has extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of acute, sub-acute and chronic muscle and nerve pain problems. Mark will work with you one-on-one to determine the best treatment plan for your individual pain to relieve symptoms and allow you to enjoy your everyday activities to their maximum potential.
CAUSES OF CHRONIC PAIN
Chronic pain may develop as a result of several different conditions, including:
- Herniated disc
- Spinal stenosis
- Facet joint pain
- Injury pain
- Cancer pain
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
Treatments for acute and chronic pain may focus on relieving symptoms or treating the underlying condition, and can vary depending on the cause and severity of each patient's individual condition, as well as their overall health and medical history. The most successful pain treatment programs are those that are specifically tailored for each individual patient so that they can remain actively involved in their own recovery. Some of the most common treatments for chronic pain include:
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications are often the first treatment utilized to relieve chronic pain. A short course of pain medication may be the next logical choice. Mark will try to minimize pharmaceuticals by recommending appropriate alternative techniques whenever possible. Non-narcotic compounds, injections, and therapy.
Injections are one of the most effective treatment options for pain management, as they block nerve signals to relieve pain and inflammation. These injections are administered directly into the affected area, along with a local anesthetic to relieve any potential discomfort, and may be composed of corticosteroids, wet needling, sclerosing solutions or other substances. Periodic injections many eliminate any need for "pills" and be a safer alternative treatment.
For the most severe cases that do not respond to less invasive treatments, surgery may be required to relieve pain and allow patients to obtain better functionality. Surgery may include joint replacement, spinal surgery, and other procedures. Mark's years of hands on surgical experience will help determine if a surgical referral is the next step and refer you to the proper and preferred specialists who have delivered great surgical results. We also offer pre and post operative pain management to help in your recovery and to assist your surgeon.
Most patients benefit from a combination of treatments in order to achieve successful pain relief and may be treated by a number of different therapists, chiropractors, surgeons and other health care providers.
To learn more about the pain treatment services provided at our practice, please call us today to schedule an appointment.