Pain management may refer to any medications or hands on treatments (e.g. massage TENS) designed to provide some level of pain relief, or specifically to medical pain management clinics designed to treat patients with chronic joint related problems with corticosteroid injections and other minimally invasive surgeries. The treatments performed at pain management clinics are generally not designed to "cure" the disease that causes the pain, but to provide injections and other treatments that provide pain relief for several weeks or months. The most optimistic scenario for pain management treatments are that they would provide patients that are rehabilitating injuries with enough temporary pain relief that they are able to get through their rehab program.
Chronic pain used to be something that patients simply had to live with, though today there are many options available to give patients short term or long term relief. Today, there are a lot of techniques available to provide direct treatments to the site of injury, as well as therapists that are trained in the psychology of pain, and how to use various relaxation and breathing techniques to reduce pain levels. Chronic pain can be, through various pain management techniques, can be treated on many levels, including:
Untreated pain can truly interfere with a person's life, creating a more difficult work environment, family life, and ability to enjoy everyday activities like walks in the park. Fortunately, there are several modern pain management specialists and pain management techniques available to help restore patients suffering from chronic pain back to levels that are manageable.
Treating pain using techniques that are scientifically researched can be complex and difficult, because no two people experience the same type of injury the same, and some patients experience moderate to intense pain levels, even when medical imaging and other tests fail to indicate clear organic causes for their pain.
- Treating the psychology of pain, with biofeedback, relaxation, and breathing techniques.
- Epidural injections into the joint space to numb the nerves transmitting pain signals to the brain.
- Electrical (TENS) therapies to stimulate activity of the muscles to promote circulation and healing.
- Physical manipulation to the joints and soft tissues to correct structural imbalances and restore the body back to a healthier posture and functioning (performed by chiropractors and osteopathic physicians)
Pain management techniques may include physical manipulation, non-invasive non-drug pain management, non-invasive pharmacological pain management, and invasive pain management techniques. Physical manipulation is performed by MD, DO, and non-doctor back specialists who put their hands on patients to gently manipulate the spine back into proper position or to reduce tension in the muscles that are causing structural imbalances, leading to back or joint pain. Back specialists who perform these physical manipulations and adjustments include Chiropractors, Physiatrists, Osteopaths.
Noninvasive non-drug pain management are therapies that don't involve pharmacological drugs, supplements, surgery, or injections. Examples of these therapies include electrotherapy, cutaneous stimulation, behavioral modification, manual techniques (these techniques may also be listed under the category of physical manipulation), and exercises. Exercises (including back pain exercises) are designed to increase circulation to damaged muscles and joints, improve flexibility, and to increase muscle strength of the muscles supporting the spine.