Managing Chronic Pain
Managing chronic pain is an important process, and any good doctor or chiropractor should be familiar with the five steps involved: understanding pain, recognizing unhealthy attitudes and thought processes, targeting the treatment area, passive care and active care. Education is essential in this process, so teaching patients about their condition is half the battle when it comes to managing chronic pain.
Understanding Managing Chronic Pain
It’s incredible, but some 70 to 100 million people a year suffer from chronic pain in the United States each year. Managing chronic pain is as vital today as it’s ever been, but the good news is that understanding of chronic pain is better than ever. In simple terms, when one experiences pain at a localized area, the nerves send a pain message from the area, to the spinal chord and then up to the brain for processing.
The brain then determines whether the pain is a threat or not and will send an inhibiter or an exciter type signal back down the path way. In essence, this provides either habituation or sensitization. Habituation can be thought of if you lived by the ocean. For the first week, you hear the ocean all the time, but as you get used to it, your brain blanks it out. The sound is still there, but your brain has suppressed it. Sensitization can be thought of as walking through a spider’s web and freaking out for the next 5 minutes thinking you have a spider on your body somewhere.
So the brain determines the risk of the pain and acts accordingly in one of these two ways.
Recognizing Unhealthy Behavior
As chiropractors, we look at the overall wellbeing of the patient. We try to understand the patient, their attitudes, behaviors and other mental aspects that can have an effect on the chronic pain experienced by them.
Targeting Treatment for Managing Chronic Pain
Once we have established the what, how, why and when of the patient’s chronic pain condition, we next look at where to apply treatment. There are three main target areas, namely:
This is generally the localized area where the majority of the pain occurs. Typical example if low back pain. Could be caused by an external source.
This is the most common form of chronic pain and tends to be as a result of another issue elsewhere in the body. A good example of this is a trapped nerve in the cervical region causing sharp pain down the arm. Sciatica is another good example.
These would be conditions which originate with the brain. Things like fibromyalgia or even tinnitus may originate with the brain and cause chronic symptoms which may be helped with the right treatment.
Treatment for managing chronic pain falls into two treatment areas, with passive care being the first. Our passive treatments come in the form of chiropractic adjustments and provide good temporary relief to pain. Chiropractic adjustments help to re-align the spine and joints, ease pressure on nerves, break up scar tissue and to reduce inflammation which causes pain. However, as the pain is chronic, the relief is temporary and frequent treatments are required to keep on top of it.
This relief will hopefully provide a break in order for the second type of treatment to be applied, namely active care.
Hands on physical treatment in the form of passive care is the first part of treatment, the second part, active care, is educating the patient and helping them to exercise and stretch appropriately to help combat the condition. This is why you will see so many reviews for us saying things like “he really took the time to explain things to me…”
Educating our patients on how and why the pain and condition exist and to provide them with self care as well is vital to managing chronic pain. Under our direction, we aim to always eradicate all pain, but sometimes this isn’t possible due to genetics, the condition itself and other factors, so a reduction in pain is the secondary goal.
Between passive care and active care on the body as a whole, can we really effectively treat patients as well as we do. Chronic pain is very difficult to treat sometimes and there are no wonder cures, particularly for back and neck pain, so the management of this chronic pain is the vital.
Warwick Chiropractic recognizes all types of conditions related to back pain, neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and more. Auto accident and work place injuries are also other areas we help amongst others all with short-term based treatments but also welcome walk-ins too – always aiming for complete eradication though reduced symptoms may be achievable if genetics & obvious external influences preclude otherwise!
And our treatments are all short term based. We do not sign patients up to long term treatment plans, we are walk in friendly, but if you wish to make an appointment you can. Ultimately, we are here to help you out of pain or manage your pain.