Here’s how the Pain Management Specialist can make a difference…
Pain is a common reason for medical consultation. Over the years, studies evaluating the Global Burden of Diseases have found chronic pain conditions amongst the leading causes of disability worldwide. The impact of chronic pain can vary, ranging from an occasional distraction or discomfort to constant severe debilitation. Some examples of common chronic pain conditions include back and neck pain, sciatica, diabetic neuropathy, headache, frozen shoulder, persisting post surgical pain, cancer pain, abdominal pain, pelvic pain and fibromyalgia. Pain in a significant proportion of these conditions is amplified by stressful and sedentary life style with obesity, lack of regular exercise, smoking, poor workplace ergonomics contributing to the increasing incidence and severity.
Chronic or longstanding pain does not always signify ongoing damage. Conditions such as arthritic knee or back pain are often accepted as part of aging process, stopping people from exploring treatment options. It can, however, cause significant distress and compromise the quality of life. With the correct help, you can control your pain better and make your life easier. A pain specialist can help to diagnose the cause of your pain and work towards relieving/ reducing it and minimise the impact on your daily routine. This is how the approach of pain management specialists is different:
Knowledge and experience
When you receive specialist training in a subject and deal with specific conditions on a daily basis (chronic pain in this case) your experience/ learning is bound to reflect your treatments and outcomes. The education and the training received helps in successfully diagnosing and treating pain issues. In India the opportunities for specializing in Pain Medicine are limited with no nationally ascribed curriculum. In the western countries pain medicine is reorganized as a separate specialty with numerous training and super specialization opportunities. Pain clinics form an integral part of most reasonable sized, good hospitals. Pain specialists generally undertake a detailed assessment of every aspect of pain and try to address problems comprehensively.
I have spent a year doing pain research and another year in pursuing advanced training in the field of pain medicine in London, UK. This is addition to the basic and intermediate training in pain medicine during my 7 years of initial anaesthesia training in London, UK. Subsequently I have worked as a Chronic Pain Consultant in UK.
Treating the cause of the pain and not just the symptoms
Pain specialists try to explore why a problem may have occurred as this is important to prevent reoccurrences. Once the underlying problem has been resolved, the pain may automatically ease off giving you lasting relief. This is better approach than just taking medications for temporary relief. Understandably this may not be possible in all cases but this should not become a deterrent to trying.
Treating the body as a whole
Pain management specialists are trained to visualize body as a whole and use a multidisciplinary approach while addressing chronic pain. They don’t concentrate on just controlling the pain, as they understand that pain can affect multiple facets of life from mental health to relationships to jobs to social life etc. Each person is unique and experiences/ processes pain differently and hence the need for individually tailored therapies. They use a combination of modalities including physiotherapy, medications, injections/ interventional therapies, psychological therapies, Complementary and alternative therapies including Acupuncture, TENS, acupressure, and meditation along with patient education to achieve the best possible results.
In certain conditions they are able to offer interventions which are not available elsewhere.