Why Do I Hurt? 11 Ways We Help to Alleviate or Prevent Your Neck & Back Pain
You’re here because pain is a part of your life. Maybe you had a bad accident, or maybe one day you were just going for a walk around the neighborhood and felt a sharp, stabbing, or even dull pain come over you.
Maybe you have pain in your back, neck, or other regions and have absolutely no idea how it started.
At National Pain Institute, we understand pain. We understand that pain can manifest itself in many ways due to a variety of conditions. We also understand that each person is unique, and thus pain management has to be unique for each and every one of our patients.
If you’re suffering from any form of acute or chronic pain, and are looking for a way to alleviate or eliminate your pain altogether, you owe it to yourself to keep reading.
Millions of people suffering from pain feel it is a hopeless situation, but the reality is this couldn’t be further from the truth. Get the facts and be better equipped to conquer your pain.
1 Pain Medications Can Actually Make You Worse (pain treatment should not always equal narcotics)
While this statement may seem like it should be on the cover of The National Enquirer® magazine you see when standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, in this case it’s absolutely true.
Sure the statement has shock value and many patients don’t like it, but it is the truth.
There are a variety of reasons why pain medications can actually make you worse, and here are a few of them:
- Many doctors are what we call “pill happy.” In essence, in order to get a patient out of their office as quickly as possible, they write a prescription for a powerful pain killer. The problem is that many narcotics are habit forming, opening up the possibility for an entirely different set of issues for a person to deal with in the future.
- For many patients, when narcotics are taken over a period of time, it increases their sensitivity to pain, making it nearly impossible for patients to get the relief they are seeking. This can have a negative effect on mood and sleep patterns, which can in turn increase pain levels.
- Last but not least, in many situations pain can actually be an outward manifestation of something else that a person is experiencing. For instance, if a person is going through a particular traumatic or stressful time, then pain could be the result of depression, anxiety, or other underlying issues. This means that treating pain with habit-forming narcotics is not a reliable treatment plan to fix the root problem.
The bottom line: If you are suffering from chronic or acute pain, and think that popping a few pills is going to make it go away, think again. You may get temporary relief, but it will come at a high cost to your overall health and well-being.
2 Complicated, Even Dangerous Surgeries aren’t Necessary in Many Cases
It seems like we all know someone who has recently had back or neck surgery, or who is about to undergo some type of surgical treatment due to pain. In some cases, surgery is absolutely necessary and can help people get the relief they need.
On the other hand, did you know that a study conducted at Oregon Health and Science University examined Medicare patient records from 2002 and 2007, and found that in just a 5-year span there were 15 TIMES more complex back surgeries performed in 2007 as opposed to just 5 years earlier?
While complex back surgeries are on the rise, there is little, if any, scientific evidence to support the “surgery first” medical paradigm in which we currently live (the more complex the surgery, the greater likelihood of complications).
We are not writing this to bash treating pain using surgical measures, but we do feel in many cases of chronic back, neck, and other pain, surgical procedures are overused and can be avoided altogether.
At National Pain Institute in Florida (with locations in Lake Mary, New Port Richey, Port St. Lucie, Turkey Lake, Lady Lake, and Winter Park), we understand that many patients want to avoid surgery when possible; it is typically a last resort that very few people actually look forward to. This is why we use a variety of minimally invasive, integrated therapies that can decrease pain, improve musculoskeletal function, and get you back on the right path.
3 The Importance of Lifestyle Management in Pain Management (Our Algorithm)
As you’re driving down the road, cream-filled donut in hand trying to drink your Grande-sized latte without spilling it, have you ever seen a person running and thought to yourself, “What an over-achiever!”?
Maybe you admire them, envy them, or even hate them…but you do notice their healthy lifestyle.
At National Pain Institute, we believe it is important for our patients to understand just how important your lifestyle really is when it comes to managing your pain.
Our bodies have a wonderful ability to heal themselves when we take care of them! Here are a few things we tell our patients they need to do in order to effectively manage their lifestyle, which in turn can reduce inflammation and help to minimize the pain symptoms you are experiencing:
- Be active. The most common objection we get when patients hear this is “I can’t! Don’t you see I’m in serious pain?” Look, we are not asking you to go for a sprint in the park or a 20-mile bike ride. We are simply asking you to be as active as you can be because studies have shown that 3 days of “resting” at a time does very little to alleviate pain. In fact, if you don’t make an effort to become more active, your pain can actually get worse.
- Lose weight. If you have episodes of acute pain, or your pain is chronic, you should evaluate your weight, and determine if losing weight is necessary to better manage your pain. By eating healthy foods, following a reasonable diet, and doing the amount of exercise you are physically able to do, you will feel better, and might just get rid of some of those nagging pains.
- Stop smoking. Smoking is bad for many reasons besides damaging your lungs. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern, smoking can interfere with a brain circuit associated with pain, which in turn can make smokers more prone to developing chronic back pain.
The benefits of improving your lifestyle with proper nutrition and exercises are limitless, and may just help keep your chronic pain from rearing its ugly head.
4 What Does Conservative, Minimally-Invasive Pain Care Look Like?
You may be thinking, “OK, so if you treat pain without addictive medications or surgery, what do you actually do?”
That’s a great question, and one that we would be happy to answer. Our pain management algorithm revolves around a variety of integrated therapies that are all designed to help you feel your best.
Here are a few of the specific types of treatment you may experience at National Pain Institute:
- Relaxation Techniques
- Psychotherapy Treatment
- Physical Therapy
- Non-addictive Medications
- Injections (SI Joint, Nerve Block, Facet Block, Epidural and More)
- Spinal Cord Stimulation (for treating diabetic neuropathy as well as a variety of other issues causing chronic back pain)
And much more. We often combine treatments for patients based on their individual needs in order to produce desired outcomes. Regardless of which treatment(s) you receive, the goal is the same: to reduce your pain and help you feel better!
To learn more about the treatments we offer, we encourage you to find our location nearest you, and give us a call to discuss which pain management options are available to you.
5 Catching it Early: Treating Acute Pain Before it Becomes Chronic (Chronification)
One of the most common things we consistently hear from our patients is, “I wish I had done this sooner.” When said, they wish they had started seeing us when the pain was still in the acute stage before it became chronic.
In the pain management field, there is a concept known as chronification, which is the notion that in order to develop chronic pain, a person must experience episodes of acute pain leading to their chronic pain.
The reason this is important is very simple. If we are able to see patients when they are experiencing acute or sub-acute pain, we are able to provide aggressive treatment that improves their odds of not developing chronic pain.
So the moral of the story is this: if you are experiencing episodes of acute neck and/or back pain, and think this issue is going to magically go away on its own, think again. The earlier you seek minimally-invasive, integrated treatment for your pain, the higher the likelihood that it can be successfully managed moving forward.
However, if you are experiencing chronic pain, there is hope for successful treatment and managing symptoms. So don’t delay your treatment any longer!
6 Treating Pain with Non-Addictive Medications
When you think of pain management, or keeping your pain “in check,” what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
For many people, they associate pain management with being on medication, which is not always the best treatment for pain. Sure, painkillers can knock out excruciating pain in the short term, but at what cost over the long haul?
Perhaps the most harmful side effect of powerful narcotics is that a person can easily develop a dependence, which can quickly escalate to an addiction.
In fact, there is currently a narcotics epidemic in the United States with 3 out of 4 overdoses being linked to some form of habit-forming pain medications, according to the CDC.
In addition to this shocking statistic, approximately 14,800 people died in 2008 due to prescription medication overdose, which is more deaths than heroin and cocaine overdoses combined.
In order to help stop this crisis, National Pain Institute is committed to treating pain without addictive medications when possible. Unless it is medically necessary to be on these medications, we prefer to treat pain using a variety of integrated therapies that pose little risk to your long-term health and wellness.
7 Using Safe, Effective Injections to Alleviate Neck & Back Pain
Chances are you know someone who has received an injection to alleviate neck, back, hip, or knee pain. At National Pain Institute, we use a variety of injections in order to help you cope with pain and get you back to doing what you love.
A few injections we typically offer to patients are:
- SI Joint Injections
- Facet Block Injections
- Nerve Block Injections
And much more.
These varieties of back pain injections are typically used to give patients relief from major issues that cause back pain, which are spinal stenosis, radiculopathy, SI joint pain, and more.
If you are suffering from back pain due to one of these conditions, or even if you aren’t sure exactly why you are hurting, we encourage you to contact us in order to schedule your appointment. Our back pain specialists can work with you to find out if one of the back pain injections is right for you, or if another course of treatment would be appropriate.
8 Offering Alternatives to Complex Spine Surgery (Spinal Cord Stimulation & More)
Instead of having complex spinal surgery that could have you out of work for months, how would you like to have a small device that sends an electric current to your spine and manage your pain that way?
Sounds much better than surgery, doesn’t it?
At National Pain Institute, we offer spinal cord stimulation (also referred to as neurostimulation or electrical stimulation) to patients, and it has been a success.
Spinal cord stimulation was first approved by the FDA in 1989, and it works by emitting an electric current at the source of the pain, which then blocks the brain’s ability to sense the pain.
In essence, spinal cord stimulation controls your brain by not allowing it to feel pain caused by your spinal cord issues.
There are many conditions where spinal cord stimulation can help a patient manage pain associated with back problems. Here are a few of them:
- Diabetic Neuropathy
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
- Failed Back Surgeries
And much more. Regardless of why your back is hurting, spinal cord stimulation is a minimally-invasive treatment option with a 60-75% success rate, making it an ideal solution for patients who do not want to be put on painkillers, and certainly do not want to have spinal surgery if it can be avoided.
If you are interested in learning what spinal cord stimulation can do, please call our office nearest you to get more information, or to schedule an appointment.
9 A Special Note for Diabetic Neuropathy Sufferers on Spinal Cord Stimulation
Are you tired of the pain caused by your diabetic peripheral neuropathy? Has pharmaceutical treatment failed to give you the pain relief you are so desperately looking for?
As we touched on above, spinal cord stimulation is a treatment that is an ideal solution for many patients suffering from diabetic neuropathy.
Unfortunately, it is estimated that more than 15 million people in the United States suffer from this issue, yet many of them are unaware that spinal cord stimulation is an available treatment.
If you are suffering from diabetic peripheral neuropathy, and are looking for an alternative treatment method that does not involve drugs, we encourage you to contact our office nearest you today in order to see what we can do for you.
10 The Role of Mood: How Psychotherapy & Relaxation Techniques Can Play a Role in Your Pain Treatment Plan
It’s easy to blame your pain on something physical. If your back hurts, something must be physically wrong with your spine, right?
What we’ve found at National Pain Institute is this may not always be the case. In fact, how you feel can have a significant impact on the levels of acute and chronic pain you experience on a daily basis.
In fact, there are numerous studies to suggest that a link between mood, depression, and chronic pain exists for many patients.
So the question is: how do we fix the issue?
In the past 20 years, people are becoming more open minded to the roll that mood can play in someone’s overall health and well-being.
By using carefully designed relaxation techniques and psychotherapy treatments, we are able to help patients mentally cope with depression, anxiety, and other issues that could be having a negative effect on their mood, and thus triggering acute or chronic pain episodes.
If your mood is causing you to experience chronic pain, it doesn’t mean you are crazy, and it certainly doesn’t mean that it is “all in your head.” Anxiety and depression can manifest in a variety of physical ailments, and at National Pain Institute we are dedicated to helping patients overcome these obstacles and effectively manage their pain.
11 In-Office Physical Therapy: Get Moving Again!
At National Pain Institute, we don’t just want to help manage your pain, we want to get you moving again with effective physical therapy treatment at one of our offices.
You’ve likely had physical therapy yourself or know someone who has, but the question we get from some of our patients is, “Why is physical therapy so important?” In fact, many patients think that moving too much will make their pain worse.
Based on our experience, we know that patients who are afraid to move (a condition known as kinesiophobia) do not do as well recovering from surgery.
At National Pain Institute, we offer a variety of physical therapy treatments as part of a comprehensive plan to effectively treat and manage your pain. Whether you have recently had surgery or are seeking physical therapy in order to avoid surgery, we can help.
So, What is Your Next Step? Let Us Show You Pain Management That Really Works!
By now, you’re aware at just how different we are from the average pain management clinics you see on highway billboards. In fact, we aren’t the last place you should go for pain treatment…we are the first!
At National Pain Institute, our goal is to improve the lives of our patients with minimally invasive pain care.
But we want to do more than just tell you who we are and what we do; we want to prove it!
So we encourage you to find our location nearest you (Lake Mary, New Port Richey, Port St. Lucie, Turkey Lake, Lady Lake, and Winter Park) to schedule your first appointment. From the moment you walk in, you’ll see the difference.
Simply put, your pain is our purpose, and making you feel better is our passion. By helping you cultivate a lifestyle and treatment plan focused on getting results, we can help you alleviate, or in some cases, eliminate the pain.
Welcome to National Pain Institute and welcome to a better way of pain management. We look forward to helping you get your life back. Contact us today at one of our locations in Florida!