Many of my patients ask the same questions. “Doc, why doesn’t my pain go away? Shouldn’t I feel better by now?”
According to the US Census bureau (2007), 56 million adults experience chronic pain. Chronic pain can stem from back pain, arthritis, migraines and other types of headaches, jaw and facial pain, and neuropathic pain. Chronic pain is pain that persists for at least three months.
The March 7, 2011, issue of TIME magazine featured several articles on chronic pain. According to the doctors interviewed, there is very little evidence that there is any type of therapy to cure chronic pain. The articles discussed pain medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (e.g. ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, aspirin) and opioids and the side effects of each. The possible future use of gene therapy to alleviate pain is considered. Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies, including acupuncture, massage, yoga, herbal supplements, and Biofield therapies (e.g. qi-gong, hands-on healing techniques), are explored. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at NIH, there is little evidence to support many of the common alternative therapies.
In my opinion, the articles failed to discuss the importance of clinical hypnotherapy, nutrition and chiropractic. Some readers questioned why there was no discussion regarding the use of medical marijuana.
So what is a chronic pain patient to do?
A multi-disciplinary team approach is the best bet for the patient who suffers with chronic pain. As with any team, there needs to be a leader—a captain or a quarterback. Remember, the patient is the manager. The manager gets to choose the players on the team, who gets playing time, and who gets benched or cut. The leader of the team should be open to alternative types of therapies. The leader also has to be willing to guide the patient in the opposite direction if such therapies will cost a lot of money or, more importantly, cause harm.
Team players can consist of chiropractors, neurologists, physiatrists, physical therapists, orthopedists, rheumatologists, pharmacists, nutritionists, and complementary therapists such as acupuncturists and massage therapists. The team can only be successful if there is good communication. How can you expect a team to succeed if no one speaks with one another? Make sure everyone on your team understands or at least knows what role the other professio...