Chronic pain is a complex and often debilitating condition that affects nearly 8 million Canadians nationwide. Unlike acute pain, which serves as your body’s alarm system responding to injury or illness and then typically subsides as the underlying issue heals, chronic pain lingers for an extended period, often lasting for months or years. It can manifest from head to toe, including persistent headaches and neck pain to neuropathic pain in your feet and anywhere in between. If left unchecked, chronic pain significantly impacts a person’s quality of life. It is important to understand that chronic pain is not merely a symptom but a distinct medical condition that requires comprehensive management.
Chronic pain can result from a myriad of underlying causes, including injury, illness, or conditions like arthritis and neuropathy. The complexity arises from the fact that often, people with chronic pain have multiple other health ailments that must be navigated and considered. Given the complexity many patients in the community may present, a pain management team uses various diagnostic tools including MRI, X-rays, physical maneuvers, and other specialized examinations to identify the cause(s) of people’s pain. While surgical options exist to address some chronic pain conditions, they may not always be the optimal choice for people who would have to take time away from work or those with certain risk factors.
Pain management offers a multimodal approach to addressing chronic pain, making it a compelling choice for many. Pain management specialists focus on understanding the unique aspects of a patient’s pain experience, tailoring treatments to their specific needs. This approach encompasses a range of treatments, including minimally invasive procedures, medication management when appropriate, and referrals to physical therapy and behavioral health services. By addressing pain from multiple angles, pain management aims not only to alleviate physical discomfort but also to enhance emotional well-being and improve overall functionality. In many cases, this comprehensive approach is more effective than surgery alone, offering patients a better chance at regaining a fulfilling life that is not controlled by pain.
- Andrius Giedraitis, MD