Dr. Golberg at Wellness and Functional Medicine in New York City is familiar with the plight of the chronic pain sufferer. When you struggle with frequent and serious pain, it can feel like there is no end in sight and like the life you once knew and loved has been taken from you. Pain management doesn’t have to be complicated, though. There is a way to create a plan that allows you to take back control of your life.
Formulating such a plan for life is key and requires the help of a knowledgeable expert in the field. This is why many who suffer from chronic pain find themselves turning to specialists.
What Is a Pain Management Specialist?
A pain management specialist is a doctor who has spent years studying and specializing in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined as a spectrum of disorder that arises for multiple reasons and stays for a prolonged amount of time, either constantly or in phases.
If you are suffering from chronic pain, whether you already know the cause or not, you should seek out the help of a specialist in this field to help navigate your circumstantial needs.
Most Frequent Causes of Chronic Pain
There are countless causes of chronic pain, but for the most part, pain specialists treat people who fall into one of five categories. These are the most common sources of chronic pain, but they often leave their victims feeling as if they are alone in the fight.
Sufferers of chronic pain who are experiencing these unique circumstances should feel comforted in the knowledge that they are not alone and that, because others before them have also struggled, there is now a clearer understanding of how each can be helped.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a type of chronic pain that most commonly affects the arms and legs. Typically, this syndrome onsets following a stroke, heart attack, or some other severe trauma to the nervous system of the body. The pain will seem out of proportion to what you would expect from the onset reasoning and therefore patients usually are slow to tie the two together.
Because CRPS is uncommon, most general practitioners don’t understand how it works. However, treatment for CRPS is most effective when a plan is created and followed in the early stages. In these cases, even full remission is a possibility.
Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects the muscles and bones. This is another disorder that is often misdiagnosed and misunderstood. Sometimes, people are even skeptical as to whether fibromyalgia is a “real” condition, which can cause some sufferers to feel a sense of embarrassment or shame.
Fibromyalgia is very real, though, and unfortunately there is no cure. A combination of medication, exercise, and a good pain management regimen accompanied by healthy eating habits and stress control can minimize symptoms, however. A good specialist can help you create a plan to live a completely normal and active life, even with a fibromyalgia diagnosis.
Everything your body does or feels is tied to the nervous system. When the nervous system is damaged, you will experience an array of symptoms, not the least of which is pain.
Depending on which parts of the nervous system have been damaged, the pain you experience will be less or more severe and might show up in surprising parts of the body. Those who suffer back injuries, for example, are often surprised to find that the longer-lasting pain from the nerve damage manifests in different areas such as the hands or feet. This can make chronic pain related to nerve damage difficult to diagnose. A skilled pain specialist, though, will make easy work of finding the source and remedy for your situation.
Arthritis is characterized by tenderness and swelling in the joints. Usually, arthritis manifests in the hands, knees, and other areas of the body that are used frequently. The most common cause of arthritis is a deterioration in the cartilage or fluid in the joints related to ongoing and persistent use.
If you suffer from arthritis, finding a good pain specialist is the key to your continued fight against the disorder. A specialist will work with you every step of the way.
Multiple Sclerosis or MS is a sometimes disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. Therefore, it affects the body’s central nervous system.
In Multiple Sclerosis sufferers, the immune system is working too hard. It attacks the protective sheath call myelin that surrounds the nerve fibers within the body. This creates “misfirings” or miscommunication between your brain and the other parts of the body. This can cause permanent damage and deterioration of the nerve cells.
When the body is fighting against MS, there is often pain involved. Using your MS diagnosis, a skilled pain specialist will be able to determine a plan for relief.
Cancer itself can cause pain, but so can the different methods that are used to fight cancer. When the immune system and nervous system are being manipulated to fight against a disease as tenacious as cancer, there will be consequences of that treatment. Usually, these consequences involve pain.
If you are suffering from cancer, you have enough on your plate already. Seeking a reliable source for pain therapy will help you focus on the fight and feel more at ease while you work toward brighter tomorrows.
One of the many ways that depression and anxiety manifest in our bodies is with pain. Typically, we associate physical symptoms of emotional disorders as being tied to extreme fatigue or rapid changes in weight. Many don’t recognize that pain is another way that these feelings present within the body.
In conjunction with a good emotional wellness plan, a pain therapist can help you feel a little less of a day to day struggle. Removing the physical pain will often make it easier to find a healthy way out of the emotional pain, too.
Major injuries almost never heal quite right. This can cause parts of the body to experience pain long after the injury has been forgotten. If you have suffered a broken bone, ripped muscle, or another similar obstacle you might find that you are still experiencing sensations of weakness or discomfort. Recruiting a good pain therapist will help you handle this annoyance in your life.
Knowing what is causing your pain is only half the battle. A good pain management specialist will explain what your diagnosis means and how this knowledge can better prepare you to fight off the pain in your daily life.
When to Seek Help for Pain
If you’re like most people, you struggle or feel embarrassed admitting that you need help. Especially in today’s climate, you might feel that your pain will not be taken seriously. Maybe you have also encountered some less than friendly healthcare personnel who have seemed skeptical of your reasoning for claiming your pain. Rest assured that a good pain management specialist will believe you and will meet your concerns with an understanding and professional tone.
If you are still unsure, there are some guidelines that can help you determine if it is time to ask for help.
Pain Never Relents
Does your pain seem to always be there? Maybe at times it eases, but never fully goes away. Otherwise, maybe you do have periods of no pain, but the pain returns over and over and you are never really free from the dread of it.
If you dream of a day without pain, you are a good candidate for pain therapy and should reach out as soon as possible to begin the process of getting your pain under control.
Your Current Medications Aren’t Helping or You’re Becoming Dependent
Has your general practitioner prescribed medication to help? Are you finding that this medication is not helping or that you are becoming dependent on it and, therefore, running into another issue altogether? If so, it might be time to try something new.
A good pain practitioner will help you figure out a new treatment or a different kind of medication that you can use to feel better without developing a chemical dependency.
You Feel There Are Better Options
Do you currently have a pain management routine that is working, but you feel there has to be something better? Settling for what works is not always the best thing, especially if you could be reaching toward something that works better or something that eliminates the problem altogether.
Speak to a specialist about what your current pain management plan involves and see what they have in mind for doing things differently. You might find that you can save time and feel better.
Progress Has Stalled
Maybe you had a regimen that was working well, but suddenly you have stopped seeing any improvement. If you feel like your progress has plateaued, you should consider enlisting the help of someone else.
Stalling out on progress is normal in almost any kind of therapy. Working with a professional in the field, you will have someone on your side that knows how to jump-start the process and get things moving once again.
Pain Is Controlling Your Life
Are you constantly backing out of plans with friends or family? Do you find that you are not enjoying the things you used to? If you are finding yourself more isolated or struggling to maintain employment because of the pain, you should look toward a solution.
The only thing that should control your life is you. With the right plan, you could be back to working and enjoying your hobbies in a very short time. First, you need to get the pain under control. Then you can start to work on renewing your relationship with family and friends and feeling a little more like your old self.
You Feel Hopeless
In extreme cases of chronic pain, people sometimes find themselves feeling hopeless. If you feel like there is no chance of happiness or relief in your life or find yourself having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you should speak to a healthcare professional- particularly those versed in emotional health and managing pain. Together, these professionals can renew your sense of wellbeing and create a plan for you to feel stronger and better soon.
There is always hope. Pain management doesn’t have to be complicated and is often simpler than you think. All you need to do is take the first brave step to ask for help.
Schedule a Consult With Dr. Golberg
To take control of your own pain management, reach out to Dr. Golberg at Wellness and Functional Medicine in New York City. He will be happy to answer any questions you have and help you create a plan that will offer you relief in your own unique set of circumstances.