Shining a Light on Chronic Pain
Since September is Pain Awareness Month, my goal is to raise awareness about pain and how we manage it. Every day I hear stories from people about their battles with chronic pain. And while their suffering overall is similar, each experience with pain is individual and presents unique obstacles to address. Patients often tell me that “No one understands my pain” because its pervasive impact is difficult to comprehend by those who live without it. I hope those who read this post may better grasp what their relative or friend is truly going through every single day.
In simple terms, pain is the ultimate tattletale. It is a stimulus that warns us when something is wrong and to stop the activity causing the pain. Everyone will experience pain throughout their life, but when pain lingers beyond six months or returns multiple times in a six-month window, it becomes categorized as chronic pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic pain impacts one in five Americans during their lifetime, and some will never be completely free of it. That means 50 million Americans are suffering from chronic pain right now, and nearly 20 million say the pain impacts their daily life.
Fast Facts About Chronic Pain
Who: Chronic pain can affect anyone. Men, women, young, old: no one is immune. At Midwest Pain Solutions, we typically see a 50/50 split between men and women with chronic pain. While some of our patients are younger, most range in age between 45 to 80.
What: As defined by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, chronic pain lasts weeks to years and persists. At Midwest Pain Solutions, we consider pain to be chronic when it lasts for more than six months or has occurred frequently in the past.
When: Chronic pain typically results from multiple injuries to the same joint, which eventually causes a vicious, recurring cycle to form within that joint or area of the body. At Midwest Pain Solutions, we treat the underlying causes of the injury to bypass any roadblocks to recovery.
Where: There are typically two types of chronic pain. One is caused by an injury, wear and tear, or surgery. The other is caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking its own body. The first type is usually found in a specific area or joint of the body. The most common spots are the lumbar spine, pelvis, cervical spine, knee joints, hip joints, and shoulder joints. When the immune system attacks the body (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia), the pain is more generalized and spread throughout the body. At Midwest Pain Solutions, we’ve compiled a combination of therapies to help with chronic pain caused by injury, wear and tear, arthritis, scar tissue, bone on bone pressure, past surgeries, and osteoarthritis. With treatments spearheaded by the most advanced high intensity laser, we craft successful treatment plans to help all types of patients.
Why: Injuries have the nasty habit of overstaying their welcome, or never leaving at all! Throughout life, your body picks up weak points (lower back, shoulders, knees) and is prone to reinjury as you undergo the rigors of daily life. Thus begins the cycle of chronic pain. Over time, you can develop permanent changes in your body like decreasing cartilage, osteoarthritis, and scar tissue. At Midwest Pain Solutions, we want to break you out of the painful cycle, allowing the body to overcome roadblocks (arthritis, scar tissue, wear and tear) that are keeping you in pain. We do this with a combination of therapies and our cutting-edge technology.
Imagine trying to live with chronic pain and the way it can seep into all aspects of daily life. Those suffering could be a mother of three with fibromyalgia, an aunt with scar tissue pain left from a double mastectomy, or an elderly relative who struggles preparing meals because of their lower back. Working in the health care industry—specifically with chronic pain patients—I witness what others don’t see on a day-to-day basis. Grown men have cried as they try to explain the pain no one else has been able to diagnose or treat properly. Fathers can’t give their kids piggyback rides, and grandparents won’t go to Bay Beach because the walking is too much for their knees. So as September wraps up, let’s take it easy on the ones we love who are dealing with chronic or acute pain. Let’s show them we care, we know their struggle and we are here for them.
3 Simple Steps to Help Your Loved One in Pain
1.) Learn more about what bothers them. Ask where it hurts and how much to better understand their pain. Try to empathize with their suffering, let them know you are here to listen and try to understand. Let them get it off their chest. After you know a little bit more about someone’s pain, you are more likely to ask them what they would like to do. Selfless actions for those you love help create a better bond and a stronger love between you and them. So, offer them the comfy chair in the living room, ask if they need to stop and stretch midway through a car ride, or see what small steps they think you can do to help.
2.) Give out free back rubs like you give out free hugs. Ask them first if they would like one, and always be gentle. A good back rub can take their mind off their pain whether they have pain in their back or not. You could also offer foot rubs or head rubs—depending on your comfort level. Back and shoulder rubs are a wonderful way to say ‘I’m here for you’ without having to say a single word.
3.) Research their pain and see if there is a way to help them seek relief. There are many avenues to treat chronic pain, and hopefully there will be options your loved one is willing and able to try. Midwest Pain Solutions is an alternative to traditional routes (surgery, needles, medications). This means we seek to treat your pain at the source using a combination of therapies, specifically our high intensity laser therapy. I (Dr. Jackson) provide no-cost consultations with the patient and their loved ones to specifically address their pain and condition. I’ll offer insight into what I do at our clinic and what types of treatments could be provided. I firmly believe in making patients comfortable with a treatment plan before they begin.
At Midwest Pain Solutions, we take great pride in our work and are passionate about helping each patient find relief and healing, increased function, and a greater quality of life.
Schedule a consultation with me to talk about what is bothering you, what can and cannot be fixed, and what combination of treatments will best address your specific chronic pain. Contact Midwest Pain Solutions today.
– Dr. Jackson Draeger, DC