Chronic pain can disrupt sleep, work, and eating habits. Persistent discomfort can lead to depression, affect your relationships, and severely compromise your quality of life. If chronic pain is affecting your life and limiting your activities, you need help from a pain management specialist.
Chronic pain can be brought on by underlying problems such as post-surgical recovery, physical injury, or a disease such as cancer. It may also be related to painful conditions such as arthritis, migraines/headaches, nerve damage, and other health issues. In some cases, no cause of chronic pain can be pinpointed. If you’re suffering from chronic pain—pain that persists for 12 weeks or more—don’t assume you must learn to live with it. Working closely with knowledgeable pain management specialists can help you manage pain and regain control of your life.
Our Approach to Care
At MedStar Health, pain management is based on a multidisciplinary approach. Experts from different fields—neurologists, radiologists, anesthesiologists, nutritionists, physical therapists, even psychiatrists—may be called in to evaluate and coordinate the overall treatment of your pain. Because the causes of chronic pain are so varied and sufferers’ perception of pain differs from person to person, treatment options are individually tailored for each patient. Your doctor may recommend an approach that combines medication and other therapies.
Medication: Medication can keep chronic pain from disrupting daily life. Prescription medications for pain relief include narcotics, seizure medications, muscle relaxants, anticonvulsants, opioids, antidepressants, and anti-inflammatory drugs. Since all pain relievers—even over-the-counter (OTC) medications—have potentially serious side effects such as stomach irritation or liver damage, it’s important to talk to your doctor before you begin taking any drug.
Injections: When oral drugs aren’t enough, doctors control some types of pain by injecting the pain site with a nerve block that numbs the nerve or with pain relievers and corticosteroids. In some cases, an intrathecal drug pump can be implanted to deliver medication.
Surgery: As a last resort when other treatments have not worked, surgery may be an option. Peripheral nerve surgery may be recommended when chronic pain is caused by nerve damage due to diabetic neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, or other nerve conditions.
Therapeutic Support: Chronic pain can change your outlook on life and the way you deal with problems and relationships. Often, therapy and other interventions can provide an important avenue for coping and adjustment:
- Physical therapy builds muscle strength and improves flexibility.
- Occupational therapy helps identify activities that trigger pain and finds ways to avoid or adapt to them.
- Psychological therapy, or counseling, can help you change your reaction to pain, ease family problems, or cope with depression.
- Support groups can help you connect with others and find new ways to cope.
- Complementary and alternative pain relief methods may include acupuncture, aquatic therapy, biofeedback, chiropractic care, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.
- Stress-relief practices such as meditation, yoga, and relaxation techniques can take your mind off pain and reduce tensions that aggravate pain.
Choosing MedStar Health
When you choose MedStar Health, you benefit by seeing a multidisciplinary team of providers who specialize in pain management. You can be confident in choosing a team with a track record for handling the most difficult pain management cases and finding solutions for every patient. Our location inside MedStar Georgetown University Hospital means you have access to other medical specialties and more advanced levels of care should you need it.