Comprehensive Pain Management
(Formally known as Franklin Pain and Wellness and Warwick Pain)

Attleboro, MA(508) 236-8333
Franklin, MA(508) 507-8818
South Kingstown, RI (401) 234-9677
Warwick, RI(401) 352-0007

Franklin, MA • (508) 507-8818
Warwick, RI • (401) 352-0007
South Kingstown, RI • (401) 234-9677

Attleboro Pain Center MA Blog

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About Chronic Pain and How to Treat It

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, August 09, 2018
Comprehensive Pain Management - Warwick, RI

One thing about pain — you know it when you have it. And if you suffer from constant chronic pain, over time it wears you down — physically, mentally, emotionally. However, you may not know what kind or what category of pain you have.

There are 2 main categories of pain — both of which can be mild, moderate, or severe:

Acute pain: Occurs immediately after an injury and lasts no longer than 2 months when treated properly.

Chronic pain: Any type of pain that lasts 6 months or longer. Chronic pain is often difficult to treat, because the cause can be hard to determine. It can also vary from one person to the next — individuals with seemingly the same kind of chronic pain may need different treatments.

Managing Chronic Pain

The treatment option that will work best for you depends on your type of pain, how severe it is, and how you respond to pain treatment. The fact is, only a physician can determine if you are a good candidate for various pain treatment options. Pain Management Specialists are physicians who specialize in treating chronic pain. These physicians receive years of advanced, specialized training in pain management and focus on treating patients with severe pain.

There are 3 levels of pain, and each may have different forms of treatment. Usually, your physician will follow a treatment plan that begins with basic therapies (like resting and nutrition) and progresses to more aggressive solutions, depending on the type and severity of pain. The treatment plan also depends on how you respond to any particular treatment.

Basic Pain Treatments:

  • Rest and diet changes
  • Exercise and physical therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs (ex: ibuprofen)
  • Cognitive and behavioral modification

Mid-Level Pain Treatments:

  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Opioids (Prescription painkillers)
  • Nerve blocks (injection of an anesthetic, steroid, and/or anti-inflammatory into the pain area)
  • Thermal procedures (extreme heat or cold delivered through needles or probes)

Advanced Pain Treatments:

  • Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS)

    SCS, also known as nerve stimulation, uses electrical signals to mask the perception of pain traveling from the painful area to the brain. In place of pain, patients feel a mild tingling sensation called "paresthesia." SCS may provide long-lasting pain relief and can be used with other therapies. Patients are able to control the intensity of the therapy, as well as turn it on and off, using a wireless remote control.

  • Surgery

    Surgical treatments may range from minor outpatient procedures to brain and spinal procedures. Surgery may be needed when structural problems occur within the spinal column often caused by injury or disease.

  • Implantable drug pumps

    Pumps deliver pain medication directly to the space surrounding the spinal cord. Direct application reduces the amount of opioids needed to relieve painful symptoms.

  • Neuroablation

    Often used as a last resort when other therapies fail, Neuroablation is a surgical technique that destroys nerves and tissue, permanently blocking nerve signals to the brain.

Is Spinal Cord Stimulation for You?

It very well could be. If you suffer from chronic pain, a Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) System may be the right choice. SCS therapy is often considered when medications or surgery are not an option or when the side effects of your current therapy are impacting your quality of life.

Evaluate your pain now. Then talk with a Pain Management Specialist to discuss if Spinal Cord Stimulation may be right for you, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Attleboro, MA.

Source: Boston Scientific

Treating Herniations in the Lumbar Spine

Joseph Coupal - Friday, July 27, 2018

The Disc-FX System safely, rapidly and effectively performs minimally invasive procedures for herniations in the lumbar spine. This treatment combines simple, intuitive function with precise surgical results. This procedure is:

  • Less invasive compared to traditional discectomy procedures
  • Minimum annulotomy reduces risk of herniation
  • Multi-functional therapeutic options; debulking, ablation and modulation
  • Manual excision of herniated nucleus through 3.0mm portal
  • Ablation and denervation achieved with use of Trigger-Flex®

For more information on treating herniations in the lumbar spine, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Attleboro, MA.

Why am I having Persistent Pain?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 12, 2018
Comprehensive Pain Management - Warwick, RI

Most of the time pain goes away after an injury heals. However, if pain persists more than a month or two, it can become chronic pain. Sometimes pain becomes chronic because the underlying problem does not heal. For instance, arthritis causes long term inflammation and damage to the joints, and it may hurt as long as the inflammation lasts. Unfortunately, chronic pain may also occur despite healing and with no obvious injury to tissues. This may be the result of damage to the nerves that transmit pain (neuropathic pain), but chronic pain also affects the entire nervous system, sometimes in a permanent way.

When any type of pain lasts a long time there can be changes in the spinal cord and the brain that change how we perceive painful sensations. These changes may result in severe pain with little or no painful stimulus. Some chronic pain can be very difficult to treat and can become so frustrating for patients that it is often accompanied by depression or other emotional problems. It is this type of pain that represents some of the most challenging problems a pain management specialist can face.

For more information on chronic pain, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Attleboro, MA.


Don't Let a Back Injury Ruin Your Golf Game

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 28, 2018
Comprehensive Pain Management in Attleboro, MA

Simply avoiding the exacerbating repetitive task may alleviate pain, however, giving up your golf game is not practical.

Frequent rounds of golf may cause a number of painful conditions from chronic overuse of the muscles and tendons. Back pain resulting from improper form is one of the more common complaints in orthopedics. First and foremost, having a golf pro will help avoid injuries and improve your game. Despite how hard you try, you may fall victim to a back injury just like the golf professionals. When injuries occur there are non-surgical and minimally invasive treatments to alleviate discomfort.

Simply avoiding the exacerbating repetitive task may alleviate pain, however, giving up your golf game is not practical. NSAIDs and RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevate) provide temporary relief but do not necessarily address the primary reason for discomfort.

The key to preventing back injury is working with your golf pro to optimize the mechanics of your swing. Muscle strains can be caused by an over-powerful swing or incorrect weight shift on the follow through, thus causing lower back pain. When this happens, and if the condition is beyond the assistance of RICE and anti inflammatories, there are non-surgical treatments to get you back in the game.

Some of the many options are:

Radiofrequency Ablation, otherwise known as RFA, is a safe, effective means to treat pain from arthritic joints in the neck and low back. The procedure uses heat to disable only the sensory nerves that transmit pain impulses in the spine. Benefits may last up to a year and sometimes longer.

Epidural injections are used to reduce inflammation and pain from nerve root compression in the neck and low back. In many cases this provides immediate relief and may provide relief lasting up to a year.

For more information on these non-surgical treatments, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Attleboro, MA.


How to ease pain with Less opioids?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 14, 2018
Spinal Cord Stimulation Works - Attleboro, MA

It’s no secret that the nation has been strongly affected by the opioid crisis.

While there are many contributing factors, the reason most people become addicted to, or overdose from opioids is pain — as in the need to relieve it.

To combat both opioid dependence and chronic pain, an increasing number of physicians are now specializing in the growing field of interventional pain management.

Interventional pain management specialists — many of whom are anesthesiologists — use nonnarcotic protocols to target the spots where patients are feeling pain, and then block the pain signals from traveling to the area.

This can be done in a variety of ways: injections, nerve blocks, topical and oral medications, and minimally invasive, outpatient surgical procedures.

Interventional pain management helps prevents addiction to narcotic pain medication.

For those suffering from chronic pain, these are just a few of the treatment options available that don’t include opioid medication.

For more information on pain management, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Attleboro, MA.


Chronic Neck Pain is A Pain in the Neck

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, May 31, 2018
Comprehensive Pain Management - Spinal Cord Stimulation in Franklin, MA

We casually refer to a minor annoyance in life as a “pain in the neck,” but as anyone with neck pain will tell you, it’s far from minor and much more painful and debilitating than an annoyance.

Currently, one third of us suffer from chronic neck or shoulder pain, and this figure is predicted to increase as computer work, cell phones, and the myriad of other gadgets we now use force us to crane our necks forward for much more of each day than ever before. We will literally be in a world of hurt.

Historically, neck and shoulder pain have been an older person’s complaint, but clinics are experiencing a rise in younger patients with neck and shoulder complaints. The impact that poor posture during tablet computers and smart phone use are having on small children and teenagers is an increasing health problem and one that more parents need to be aware of and manage.

Because many cases of neck pain are related to posture, it can be difficult to distinguish which is which. People may come in with shoulder pain when they really have a neck problem. The reporting system of the body (and patients) can be unreliable so neck and shoulder pain commonly overlap. We can add in neck pain’s connection with headaches, too, to the mix of suffering that’s hard to tease apart.

Understanding some of the basics of the body helps us manage our conditions and treatments more effectively.

By a beautiful design in nature that allows us to turn our head and see in all directions, our neck is engineered to be a bit unstable. Perhaps to balance this, the muscles in the neck are some of the fastest, most forceful muscles in the body, and have some of the greatest endurance of any muscles. The muscles of the head and neck control important, everyday tasks such as facial expressions, talking, chewing and swallowing and even the movement of the eyes.

The neck and shoulders are structured in such a way that they are entirely dependent on alignment and balance between the muscles and fascia that bind them together while allowing for movement.

All this depends on proper posture.

Causes of neck pain

With so many of us gazing into computers or staring down at our smart phones most of the day, it’s no wonder data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 20% of us have experienced neck pain within the past three months.

Poor posture: Today, poor posture is often called nerd or text neck because so many of us spend hours looking down at our devices now. One recent study showed that 79% of those between the age of 18 and 44 have their cell phone on them almost constantly with only two hours of the waking day spent without the cell phone. Looking down at your phone or tablet has unavoidable consequences. In order to protect themselves from the constant strain of poor posture, muscles harden into tough bands, causing fatigue, spasms and hot, chronic pain along the ridge of the shoulder blades and neck.

The tendency toward poor posture in the upper back from slumping and rounding the shoulders is easy enough and important enough to correct. When we slouch our shoulder blades slide away from the spine and overstretch and weaken muscles, particularly the pectoralis muscles.

Good posture requires conscious correction for only a short time and once the brilliance of adaption has occurred, a good habit is formed and it’s one more area of wellness that we’ve mastered and one less reason for pain.

Here’s what you can do on your own to prevent and treat text neck:

Make sure your work environment allows you to look forward at any screens you use, not down. Hold your phone up in front of your face whenever you can to avoid looking down at it. Take frequent breaks from your devices and walk around every 20 minutes, at least.

Soft tissue injury/Trauma: Muscles, tendons and ligaments in the neck and shoulder area are prone to injury from whiplash and other impact injuries. These conditions can range in severity and be acute or become chronic.

Degenerative diseases/arthritis/degenerative disc disease: Inflammation in joints is painful and restricts movement and mobility, however, it’s important to employ exercise as medicine with arthritis, and degenerative disc conditions, research says. Joints need the flexion caused by proper exercise to remain healthy, but improper movement is painful, so arthritis sufferers tend to err on the wrong side and reduce movement by too much and the stiffness worsens.

Pinched Nerves / Radiculopathy / Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: The pain, numbness and tingling from a nerve being compressed and irritated can be caused by physical overexertion or one of several medical conditions, so establishing cause by a doctor may be helpful. This condition responds well to physical therapy and exercise – see our post on thoracic outlet syndrome.

Fractures: Also called a broken neck, this occurs when one of the seven cervical vertebrae are fractured usually the result of a high-energy trauma such as car accident or a fall. These accidents can have serious consequences because the nerves running through the neck can be impacted or damaged. The first thing to do if you suspect a fracture is to immobilize the neck until x-rays can be reviewed by a physician. Treatment can range from wearing a cervical brace for 60 weeks to spending three months in a rigid cast or some combination of those options. Afterwards, physical therapy and bodywork will aid a full recovery.

Medical conditions: It’s rare, but possible for a medical condition to refer pain up into the neck and shoulder area. Talk to your doctor if no other cause of neck and shoulder pain is identified.

Neck Pain Relief or Prevention?

What’s even better than neck pain relief? Not having pain in the first place! We shouldn’t be sedentary for more than half an hour at a time. Positioning yourself in a certain way for an extended period increases pressure on your spine and decreases mobility. If you require the use of technology all day, take “micro breaks” every 15-20 minutes. Lift your head up and stretch, in order to get your neck and shoulders moving.

Studies have shown that people who take these micro breaks are 21% less likely to suffer from neck and shoulder pain. Help yourself to maintain the health and well-being of your spine and help prevent further postural issues arising. Address any ergonomic issues whether at work with your desk, at home, or in your study.

The body is designed for motion, much like a car. When we leave our car idle in the garage for several days, what happens? The battery needs to be charged. So it is with the body, and zones in the body that are often idle for hours at end, such as the neck and shoulders. So, “Get up and move!”

Finally, if your shoulders and back are tight, you’ll have a hard time eliminating neck pain because your back muscles will be pulling on your neck. The body is an integrated system and we need to treat the whole body when we run into trouble.

For more information on relieving chronic neck pain, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Attleboro, MA.


Chronic Pain has a Massive Impact on the Workforce

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, May 17, 2018
Comprehensive Pain Management - Attleboro, MA

Chronic pain, which is any physical discomfort lasting for at least six months, affects over 50 million Americans, most of whom work full time. Common forms of chronic pain include headaches, backaches, arthritis, respiratory conditions, and ailments caused by sports injuries or other traumas, such as car accidents.

There have been several studies to examine the role of chronic pain on work factors such as job stress, employee performance and organizational profitability. It was found that social stigmas and job fears help mask the true size of the problem.

"Generally speaking, chronic pain and other physical and mental disorders have been categorized as 'silent disorders' in the workplace simply because most employees are afraid of the consequences if employers find out." - study author

The research indicates that chronic pain at work has a significant effect on both the worker and the organization. For example, higher levels of chronic pain are associated with:

  • More conflict on the job
  • Less-effective communication
  • An inability to focus on tasks that require sustained concentration
  • Less enthusiasm for the job
  • Fewer favorable interactions with coworkers and supervisors
  • Less support from the organization
  • More job tension
  • Higher levels of depressed mood (feeling "blue" on the job, etc.)

The authors of the studies were also interested in gauging the bottom-line consequences of chronic pain for sufferers.

"For those experiencing even moderate levels of chronic pain, the financial consequences are staggering." study author.

In one study, more than 2,000 employees were asked to report the number of hours per week that pain caused them to be ineffective.

The results indicate that chronic pain accounts for over five hours per week of lost productivity. When projected over the course of the year, this means more than $5,000 per employee.

This result does not take into consideration indirect costs, which can double or triple the amount.

An inability to be productive also affects customer retention and increases bottlenecks caused by not keeping up with others, as well as the costs associated with absenteeism, tardiness and ongoing medical treatment.

A proactive approach by employers may help minimize some of these undesirable effects.

First, education and communication can go a long way in reducing the stigma of chronic pain as a weakness. Also, organizational support, even if it is only in the form of empathy, may help sufferers get through the roughest days.

For more information on chronic pain management, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Attleboro, MA.


The Cause of Musculoskeletal Disorders at Work

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, May 03, 2018
Comprehensive Pain Management - Franklin, MA

The root cause of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSC) is exposure to MSD risk factors – both work-related risk factors and individual-related risk factors.

Work-related Risk Factors Workplace design plays a crucial role in the development of an MSD.

When a worker is asked to do work that is outside his body’s capabilities and limitations, he is being asked to put his musculoskeletal system at risk.

There are three primary ergonomic risk factors.

High task repetition. Many work tasks and cycles are repetitive in nature, and are frequently controlled by hourly or daily production targets and work processes. High task repetition, when combined with other risks factors such high force and/or awkward postures, can contribute to the formation of MSD. A job is considered highly repetitive if the cycle time is 30 seconds or less.

Forceful exertions. Many work tasks require high force loads on the human body. Muscle effort increases in response to high force requirements, increasing associated fatigue which can lead to MSD.

Repetitive or sustained awkward postures. Awkward postures place excessive force on joints and overload the muscles and tendons around the effected joint. Joints of the body are most efficient when they operate closest to the mid-range motion of the joint. Risk of MSD is increased when joints are worked outside of this mid-range repetitively or for sustained periods of time without adequate recovery time.

Exposure to these workplace risk factors puts workers at a higher level of MSD risk. It’s common sense: high task repetition, forceful exertions and repetitive/sustained awkward postures fatigue the worker’s body beyond their ability to recover, leading to a musculoskeletal imbalance and eventually an MSD.

Individual-related Risk Factors

Human beings are multi-dimensional. Limiting ourselves to a singular cause of Musculoskeletal Disorders will limit our ability to create a prevention strategy that addresses the multi-dimensional worker.

We need to address both workplace risk factors and individual risk factors.

Individual risk factors include:

Poor work practices. Workers who use poor work practices, body mechanics and lifting techniques are introducing unnecessary risk factors that can contribute to MSDs. These poor practices create unnecessary stress on their bodies that increases fatigue and decreases their body’s ability to properly recover.

Poor overall health habits. Workers who smoke, drink excessively, are obese, or exhibit numerous other poor health habits are putting themselves at risk for not only musculoskeletal disorders, but also for other chronic diseases that will shorten their life and health span.

Poor rest and recovery. MSDs develop when fatigue outruns the workers recovery system, causing a musculoskeletal imbalance. Workers who do not get adequate rest and recovery put themselves at higher risk.

Poor nutrition, fitness and hydration. For a country as developed as the United States, an alarming number of people are malnourished, dehydrated and at such a poor level of physical fitness that climbing one flight of stairs puts many people out of breath. Workers who do not take care of their bodies are putting themselves at a higher risk of developing musculoskeletal and chronic health problems.

Exposure to these individual risk factors puts workers at a higher level of MSD risk. Just like workplace risk factors, individual risk factors are common sense: when a worker uses poor work practice, has bad health habits, doesn’t get adequate rest and recovery and doesn’t take care of their bodies with a good nutrition and fitness regimen, they are at greater risk for fatigue to outrun their recovery system. Having a poor overall health profile puts them at greater risk of developing a musculoskeletal imbalance and eventually an MSD.

For more information on preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders at work, or for treating Musculoskeletal Disorders, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Attleboro, MA.


Treating Chronic Pain

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, April 19, 2018
Comprehensive Pain Management - Franklin, MA

Opioid abuse is an epidemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, killing 40 a day and ensnaring millions more in a pattern of abuse and addiction. At the same time, chronic pain is hurting the quality of life of some 100 million Americans — more than heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined, a study published in the Journal of Pain estimates. If you suffer from chronic pain, understanding how to recognize, treat, and manage your pain as early as possible may relieve not only the pain, but also the anxiety that goes along with it.

Like heart disease and diabetes, chronic pain is a complex disease that needs to be managed with medications, lifestyle changes, and often psychological help. And like many chronic diseases, the sooner you treat pain, the sooner you can reverse or manage the damage that’s already been done.

When it comes to treating pain with drugs, almost all pain experts agree that cancer pain and pain from severe acute injuries or surgeries are best treated by opioids, but there are so many factors that determine which patients are good candidates for which treatments.

It is estimated that 10 percent to 15 percent of people treated with opioids can get addicted, and many millions more without chronic pain misuse the drugs recreationally. Even people who don’t get addicted to drugs get physically dependent because the body becomes habituated. While opioids are effective in nearly everyone for acute inflammatory pain, for chronic pain, maybe a third of people will get long-term benefits, and not all of those people will get a functional benefit, meaning other medications might be more effective.

Picking a Chronic Pain Treatment Plan

Before a pain specialist can decide the best course of action for you, he or she needs to take a comprehensive history of when and how your pain started, how long it’s lasted, and how you’ve been treated it so far.

Here are some general treatment categories to know the next time you talk to your doctor:

Acetaminophen: The active ingredient in Tylenol, over-the-counter acetaminophen is one of the most commonly used pain relievers, and a first-line treatment recommended by the American College of Rheumatology.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Another first-line treatment, NSAIDs are slightly more powerful than acetaminophen and available over-the-counter in lower doses and by prescription for higher doses. NSAIDs include anti-inflammatory drugs, such as naproxen (the active ingredient in Aleve), and ibuprofen. They can be used in conjuction with opioids, making opioids more effective and reducing the necessary opioid dosage. But NSAIDs are also not without risks. When you reach a certain age, people become much more likely to develop complications with NSAIDs. Organ toxicity, kidney or liver failure, ulcers. Opioids don't have those risks.

Serotonin and norephinephrine reuptake inhibitors: Anti-depressants that inhibit both serotonin and norephinephrine are first-line treatments for nerve pain, such as diabetic neuropathy, and muscular and skeletal pain. Anti-depressants that are also approved for anxiety can help also help people sleep, and they don't have the downsides of opioids.

Cortiosteroids: Steroids, such as prednisone, inhibit injured nerves, Cohen explains. The problem is, the pain returns once you stop taking them and they may actually accelerate joint destruction.

Topical medications: Lidocaine and capsicin are two examples of topical creams that can treat localized pain, either as a one-time treatment or part of a regular pain-soothing treatment plan. The downside is these drugs only work for pain in one area, not total-body pain.

Injections: There are lots of different kinds of injections, including nerve, epidural, trigger point, and radiofrequency injections, which work for regional or local pain. Steroids and other types of drugs can also be administered through injections. The conditions injection can treat are as varied as the injections themselves. Arthritis, acute injuries and muscle pain, myofascial pain syndrome, headaches, and more can all respond favorably to injections. However, they're not good for someone with the total-body pain that comes with conditions such as fibromyalgia or diabetic neuropathy.

Neurostimulators: An acute treatment that is FDA-approved for back, neck, arm, or leg pain, neurostimulation uses implanted electrodes to interrupt nerve signals and provide pain relief. However, this type of treatment is not a cure for what's causing the pain; instead, it simply masks pain signals before they reach the brain. Some types of stimulation, including sphenopalatine ganglion stimulation, are going through clinical trials to evaluate their effectiveness for treating headaches, including cluster headaches.

Massage, acupuncture, and other alternative therapies: Often combined with traditional drug therapy, acupuncture, acupressure, spinal manipulation, and more can be effective, safe, and side-effect free, particularly when more conventional treatments have not helped. Alternative therapy seems to be more effective than not having any treatment and in some cases, may work as well as medications.

Exercise and physical therapy: Study after study has shown that gentle exercise can improve functionality and mobility in people with many kinds of chronic pain. Gentle movements such as tai chi and yoga have been shown to improve chronic back and joint pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other conditions.

On the whole you can't say clear-cut things about who should be treated with which drugs, or which alternative and complementary treatments. The key is talking to your doctor to find a plan that works for you.

For more information on pain management, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Attleboro, MA.


Ways to Treat Chronic Back Pain

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, April 05, 2018
Comprehensive Pain Management - North Attleboro, MA

Back pain is considered chronic if it lasts three months or longer. It can come and go, often bringing temporary relief, followed by frustration. Dealing with chronic back pain can be especially trying if you don’t know the cause.

Here are some common chronic back pain causes and nonsurgical treatment options.

Common Causes of Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain is usually age-related, but can also result from a prior injury. The most common causes include:

  • Arthritis of the spine—the gradual thinning of the cartilage inside the spine
  • Spinal stenosis—narrowing of the spinal canal that may lead to nerve pain
  • Disc problems, such as a herniated or bulging disc
  • Myofascial pain syndrome—unexplained muscle pain and tenderness

In some cases, it’s difficult to pinpoint the cause of chronic back pain. If your doctor has exhausted all diagnostic options, it’s time to seek a second opinion from a back pain specialist. It’s important not to make rushed decisions or undergo extensive medical procedures until the origin of the pain is found. Not only may they not help; they could make the pain worse.

If the source of the pain is not known or can’t be treated, your best option may be to work with your pain management team on reducing the flare-ups and making the pain manageable with nonsurgical treatments.

Nonsurgical Treatments for Chronic Back Pain

  1. Physical Therapy

    Exercise is the foundation of chronic back pain treatment. It’s one of the first treatments you should try under the guidance of your physician and spine physical therapist. However, the same set of exercises doesn’t work for everyone. The exercises have to be tailored to your specific symptoms and condition. Maintaining the exercise routine at home is also a big part of success.

  2. Mindfulness and Meditation

    Chronic back pain is straining both physically and emotionally. To manage the frustration, irritability, depression and other psychological aspects of dealing with chronic pain, you may get referred to a rehabilitation psychologist. This specialist may recommend meditation, yoga, tai chi and other cognitive and relaxation strategies to keep your mind from focusing on pain.

  3. Diet

    Some diets are highly inflammatory; especially those high in trans fats, refined sugars and processed foods. Consult with your doctor to see if your diet could be contributing to your chronic back pain and how you could change it. Maintaining a healthy weight could also help lessen your back pain by reducing the pressure on your spine.

  4. Lifestyle Modifications

    When you have chronic pain, it’s important to accept your limitations and adapt. Listen to your body and learn to pace yourself. Take a break when mowing the lawn, or make several trips when carrying groceries. Take note of the activities that worsen your pain and avoid them if possible. Not only could this help your back feel better, it could also prevent the underlying condition from advancing.

    Another important lifestyle change to try is giving up smoking. Nicotine is scientifically known to accentuate pain and delay healing.

  5. Injection-based Treatments

    Nerve blocks, epidural steroid injections, nerve ablations and other types of injection-based procedures are available for chronic back pain. They are used when the source of the pain is known and can sometimes help rule out certain causes if the treatment doesn’t work. Injections may stop or lessen pain for a certain period of time, but are not intended as long-term solutions and shouldn’t be used in isolation.

  6. Alternative Treatments

    Acupuncture, massage, biofeedback therapy, laser therapy, electrical nerve stimulation and other nonsurgical spine treatments can also make a difference for chronic back pain. Talk to your spine specialist about alternative treatments that could benefit you.

  7. Analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants and other medications can be used to help control chronic back pain. However, most come with unwanted side effects and are not intended for prolonged use.

Opioid medications generally shouldn’t be used as the first, the only or the long-term line of treatment for chronic back pain. Many of them are addictive and don’t address the underlying cause of your pain. Opioids should be prescribed only after a thorough exam by a specialist and if other drugs have failed to provide relief. If you find yourself relying on opioids to get through the day, it may be time to seek a second opinion.

For more information on managing chronic back pain, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in Attleboro, MA.


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