Chronic Pain

What Does a Pain Specialist Do?

  • pain specialist

Pain specialists are doctors who specialize in treating chronic pain caused by various diseases and disorders. They generally operate at pain clinics that employ doctors from many different fields of medicine. This allows the pain specialists to create well-rounded treatment plans based on various pain-relief therapies tailored to the patients’ needs.

But what does all this mean for the patient? If you have your first appointment booked with a pain clinic or are thinking about seeing a pain management doctor, you’re probably wondering what it’s like to see one and what a pain specialist will actually do for you. Here’s everything you’ll need to know about seeing a pain specialist.

 

When to See a Pain Specialist

Anyone dealing with chronic pain should see a pain specialist. If you’ve been dealing with pain intense enough or long enough that you’re wondering if you should see a pain specialist, the answer is probably yes. For a more concrete answer, here are some indications that you should see a pain specialist:

  • Your pain persists with a specific motion or movement.
  • You’re struggling to perform day-to-day activities that you didn’t struggle with before. At this point, you’re experiencing debilitating pain. Seeing a pain specialist can make it so you can resume normal activities.
  • You find that pain radiates throughout parts of your body, or that the pain is accompanied by tingling and numbing sensations. This indicates a pinched nerve, and it is something pain specialists can help relieve.
  • You find you can only get through the day with pain medication. While this may seem like the only answer right now, it’s incredibly unhealthy to do this, and a pain specialist will be able to provide pain relief therapies that don’t solely rely on drugs.
  • Your pain is preventing you from sleeping well. The pain itself is bad enough, but a lack of sleep will cause many other health issues. Poor sleep is something that needs to be treated whenever possible.

If you’re still not sure that you meet pain clinic requirements, you can always start by visiting your primary care physician to get their opinion.

What to Expect at Your First Appointment

Your first appointment with a pain specialist will be used to learn about your pain and the source of your pain so that the doctors can create a treatment plan for you. You can expect plenty of questions, such as:

  • Where is your pain?
  • What does your pain feel like?
  • How often do you feel pain?

Because pain isn’t something that doctors can objectively measure, these questions (and many more like them) are used to better understand what you’re feeling. You can also expect questions about your medical history and a variety of diagnostic tests and imaging. It can also help for you to bring any copies of imaging you have done in the past.

Prepare for your appointment by starting a pain journal.

In the moment, trying to recall everything about your pain and accurately answer those questions can be difficult. We can struggle to correctly remember things in stressful situations, and we’re not always aware of when and how we’re feeling pain. If you have an appointment booked or are planning to book an appointment, now is the time for you to start a pain journal.

A pain journal is something that you can use to record your pain as it’s happening. Just write down a short description of the pain, where it’s coming from, and rate it on a scale from 1 to 10. You’ll be able to bring this with you to your appointments, which will provide the pain management doctor with an accurate description of your pain.

This may seem like a hassle, but it’s beneficial for your treatment. You can use an easy-to-carry journal that fits in your pocket, which you can readily bring out whenever you feel pain.

 

Pain management near meTypes of Pain Treated by Pain Specialists

Pain specialists can treat pain of all kinds, whether it’s from injuries, disorders, or diseases. As long as the pain is persistent or chronic, it’s something that a pain specialist will help with. Here are some common causes of pain that specialists help treat:

  • Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Broken bones
  • Migraines
  • Cancer

 

Treatment Offered by Pain Specialists

While it’s easy to assume that pain specialists rely on pain medication to treat their patients, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Pain relief therapies are as diverse as the causes of pain, and treatment plans are put together from multiple disciplines to create healthy and sustainable ways for clients to live their lives free from debilitating pain. There will commonly be more than one type of treatment on a single plan so that patients can maximize their pain relief.

Here are just some of the treatment options that pain specialists can prescribe:

  • Drug Therapy. Drugs are sometimes used, although specialists won’t only rely on them. Specialists will generally get patients to start with over-the-counter medication and see if that relieves the pain. If that doesn’t work, they’ll move on to prescription medication.
  • Trigger Point Injections. This is a procedure meant to treat painful muscles using a local anesthetic injected into trigger points in the body. This treatment usually results in lasting relief.
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Therapy. Commonly known as TENS, this procedure relieves pain by stimulating nerves with a low-voltage electric current. This sort of scrambles the messages sent to your brain so that it isn’t correctly receiving pain signals.
  • Psychological Treatment. Chronic pain can easily affect your mental health. As part of pain treatment, it’s common to include psychological therapies to improve the effects the pain would have had on your health while it wasn’t being treated.

 

Treat Your Pain at the Carolinas Pain Center

If you deal with pain regularly and it’s affecting your quality of life, you owe it to yourself to go to a pain clinic. They’re trained to relieve pain of all kinds, and pain management will be able to help you live a better life. You can easily set up an appointment online. Take a look at our resources page if you want to learn more about pain and how it’s treated.

Can I Manage My Chronic Pain?

  • Chronic pain management

Chronic pain is a debilitating condition that can seriously diminish a person’s quality of life. Living with chronic pain will often lead to other health issues that can exacerbate the pain, resulting in a negative cycle of worsening conditions. Managing chronic pain means breaking out of this cycle and gradually improving your health.

If you’re living with chronic pain, it can easily feel like there’s no way of making it better. However, this article is here to help you break out of that cycle. We’ll talk about how chronic pain can affect your body and mind and give you tips on how to improve your quality of life. Instead of your pain controlling you, you can learn how to control pain.

 

Effects of Chronic Pain

Physically, chronic pain creates a lot of challenges. Day-to-day activities can gradually become more and more difficult to do on your own, and you may find that you no longer partake in hobbies you once loved. Pain can also easily affect your ability to exercise. All of these together can have a serious effect on your physical health as you won’t be moving as much as you used to.

Chronic pain can also be hard on you because of how your body responds to it. Pain triggers the stress response in the body, preparing your body to run away from the situation. Unfortunately, you can’t run from your pain, and your body’s stress response is active far longer than what’s healthy. This prolonged stress response leads to a higher risk of cardiovascular and gastrointestinal issues.

On top of the physical issues, chronic pain often leads to poor sleep and mental health issues. It’s common for those suffering from chronic pain to experience a change in their mood, increased anxiety, and a heightened risk of depression. Because of this, pain management and treatment may involve psychological care.

 

Living With Chronic Pain

Suffering from chronic pain doesn’t have to mean that you aren’t living your normal life anymore. While there may be a temporary halt on some of the activities you once did, proper chronic pain management can help you return to your regular routine.

Managing Chronic Pain

Chronic pain management isn’t always easy, but it is rewarding. Here are some of the ways that you can manage your own pain:

1. Exercising

When we’re in pain, exercise becomes more difficult, and it’s much more tempting to just avoid it altogether. However, not using our muscles weakens them, and we lose our stamina. After some time, this can make physical activity even harder and more painful to do, creating a downward spiral. So, make sure to continue exercising. Regular exercise can also ease your pain by keeping your muscles strong and your joints flexible. If you find what you would normally do for exercise too difficult, you can speak with your doctor or a physical therapist to look into workouts that will be less strenuous and easier for you to do.

2. Stretching

Stretching is another effective way to keep your body healthy and minimize your pain. Stretching helps to improve posture, blood flow through the muscles, flexibility, and range of motion. All of these can help reduce muscle and joint pain and overall stiffness. Here are some simple stretches you can try out. If you find it difficult to get started, try taking a hot shower or soak in the tub first.

3. Balanced Diet

Ensuring you’re eating a healthy and balanced diet isn’t likely to directly impact your pain, but it does come with benefits that will improve your health and indirectly reduce your pain. It’s easy to fall into bad habits and start eating poorly. However, a poor diet can lead to more health issues that will make chronic pain management even more difficult. A poor diet combined with difficulty exercising can also lead to weight gain, which can directly worsen chronic pain. The extra weight on your joints will create more pressure, which can increase pain. A balanced diet will make sure that you stay healthy and can help you lose weight if you need that.

4. Relaxation

Some of the health issues caused by chronic pain are a result of the body’s stress response. An effective way to counteract that response is to actively relax. Our bodies cannot be stressed when we’re relaxed, so relaxing will stop the stress response. On top of that, relaxing will also release muscle tension, which can contribute to your pain. There are plenty of ways you can relax, but we would suggest one of the following relaxation techniques: progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, or meditation. These are all techniques that will take a bit of learning to do well, but the benefits are worth the bit of effort to learn one or more of these techniques.

5. Support

Going through something difficult like chronic pain on your own is hard and can contribute to mental health issues. We would encourage you to seek support from friends and loved ones who are able to help you. It would also help to seek out others dealing with the same condition. You’ll be able to share your struggles with someone who truly understands you. If you don’t personally know anyone else suffering from chronic pain, you can check out some support groups.

Treatment for Chronic Pain

There’s only so much that you can do on your own. If it feels like chronic pain is killing you, consider getting treatment on top of doing things on your own to manage your pain. Chronic pain treatment will often consist of medical interventions that will be able to diminish your pain more than you’d be able to on your own. This will make learning to manage your pain and take care of your health much easier.

 

Finding Care for Chronic Pain

When chronic pain becomes too much, it’s time for you to seek treatment at a pain clinic. There, you’ll meet with pain specialists who will be able to devise treatment plans to minimize your pain and return your life to normal.

To get chronic pain treatment at a pain clinic, you can start by speaking with your primary care physician. If they believe a pain clinic will be helpful for you, they’ll refer you to one. However, you can just start by contacting a pain clinic directly. That would speed up the process if you’re looking for care as soon as possible.

The Carolinas Pain Center Can Help

If you need help managing your chronic pain, reach out to us at the Carolinas Pain Center. Our pain specialists will create a treatment plan specifically for you so that you can go back to a fulfilling life without constant disruption. Visit our resources page to learn more about chronic pain, what it means for you, and what you can do to manage it.

What Happens if Chronic Pain Is Left Untreated?

  • chronic pain treatment

If you’re one of the millions of people that suffer from chronic pain, you should be undergoing chronic pain treatment. Why? Because persistent pain decreases quality of life, often significantly. Moreover, untreated or even undertreated pain can lead to serious consequences.

Treating chronic pain is extremely important, as untreated pain can have profound impacts on your body. It can affect all the major organ systems, causing immense discomfort and interfering with essential daily activities. In some cases, chronic pain that has gone untreated may even threaten your life.

In this post, we cover the basics of chronic pain and provide chronic pain examples and information to help folks from all walks of life reduce discomfort and avoid the consequences of untreated chronic pain.

 

Types of Chronic Pain

So, what happens if chronic pain is left untreated and you don’t get chronic pain treatment? Well, pain can intensify and complications can occur, which could be dangerous. But, before we get into that, we will answer the question, “What is chronic pain?” and look at the types that can affect people.

Chronic pain is pain in the body that persists for three months or longer. It may be constant or intermittent, as well as mild, moderate, or severe. Sharp, dull, aching, stinging, gnawing, nagging, throbbing, pounding, shooting, stabbing, and radiating are words commonly used by sufferers to describe their pain.

There are various types of pain that can affect an individual chronically. These include back pain, neck pain, headaches, testicular pain, and pain from diseases such as arthritis or cancer. People may also experience neurogenic pain, muscular pain (e.g., from fibromyalgia), and pain from injuries.

As mentioned, chronic pain can affect the major systems of the body, including the endocrine system, the cardiovascular system, the immune system, the neurologic system, and the musculoskeletal system. When this occurs, pain may spread and intensify. Harmful conditions can develop, along with new symptoms.

 

 

Consequences of Untreated Chronic Pain

What can chronic pain lead to? Why do you need chronic pain treatment? Can chronic pain lead to death? These are questions that people suffering from persistent pain frequently ask, and they should. Knowing the answers to them can help avert potentially fatal complications and improve life quality.

Chronic pain, when it affects the mechanism inside the body that regulates blood pressure, increases the risk of developing hypertension. This can lead to heart attacks and strokes. When the pain affects the endocrine system, the immune system may weaken, reducing the body’s ability to prevent and fight infections.

“Deconditioning” is another reason why chronic pain management is necessary. Pain affecting a particular part of the body, such as an arm or leg, often causes persons with pain to limit the movement and use of it. This can result in mobility issues and injuries due to weakness of the muscles, nerves, and joints.

In many individuals, there can be neuropsychiatric problems from untreated chronic pain. Issues such as memory loss, attention deficit, anxiety, and depression are common in long-term pain sufferers, and some increase the risk of suicide. Brain disorders and sexual dysfunction can also result from enduring pain.

 

Treatment for Chronic Pain

Typically, chronic pain does not go away. Chronic pain treatment is required to reduce discomfort and prevent complications and other symptoms. Treating lasting pain generally involves identifying and addressing its cause.

Medical professionals treat and manage chronic pain in a variety of ways. The approach that is taken depends on the type of pain you have, the cause of the pain, and your age and overall health. Often, healthcare providers will use a combination of treatment methods and strategies to alleviate pain.

Healthcare specialists may prescribe lifestyle changes (e.g., stress, exercise, diet, sleep, etc.) and medications to relieve chronic pain, such as corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, opioids, muscle relaxers, and NSAIDs. Medical marijuana can also be useful, and sedatives can help with insomnia and anxiety.

Other medical treatments for chronic pain include transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, nerve blocks, epidural steroid injections, and specialized therapies. Cognitive behavioral therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and talk therapy are the main therapy treatment options. Additionally, some people may find alternative pain treatments helpful.

Finding Treatment

chronic pain treatmentFinding chronic pain treatment isn’t hard; it’s just a few clicks or phone call away. However, prolonged pain can be a complex medical issue that is difficult to diagnose and treat. When that is the case, chronic pain sufferers may have to see one or more specialists. In severe cases, a multidisciplinary treatment team may be required.

Different types of specialists are available for treating chronic pain. They include pain medicine specialists, orthopedic doctors and surgeons, osteopathic doctors, and rheumatologists. Your GP can refer you as appropriate. There are also various types of therapists and neurologists that can help with the pain.

What does a neurologist do for chronic pain? They can diagnose and treat neuropathic pain caused by nerve disease. Pain signals are sent by the nerves, and neurologists can prevent pain signal generation and keep pain signals from reaching the brain using advanced medical techniques and technologies.

Depending on where you live, there may be pain centers and clinics that you can visit. These are healthcare facilities that focus on the diagnosis and management of chronic pain and provide physical, behavioral, and psychological therapies.

 

Don’t Leave Your Chronic Pain Untreated

Chronic pain can last for years and make it difficult or impossible to work, enjoy life, and take care of yourself or others. And because untreated and undertreated chronic pain has a tendency to get worse and can have dire consequences, chronic pain treatment is not something that you want to put off.

How long can you live with chronic pain? That depends on the patient and cause of the pain. But why put yourself at risk and suffer unnecessarily when there are life-altering treatments available? If you’re a chronic pain sufferer, seek treatment. There are ways to reduce, manage, and possibly eliminate your pain.

At Carolinas Pain Center, we specialize in dealing with all kinds of pain and have successfully treated hundreds of patients. If you’re interested in getting professional chronic pain treatment, make an appointment today. Alternatively, you can browse our website and learn more about us here.

Warning Signs of Neuropathy

  • neuropathy symptoms

Are you living with chronic pain? If you’re regularly experiencing things like pain, muscle weakness, and numbness, you could be suffering from an undiagnosed chronic pain disorder. Neuropathy is a very common chronic pain condition, particularly among adults with diabetes, people receiving chemotherapy, and people living with HIV. 

If you’re not familiar with neuropathy, it’s important to know the warning signs. In this post, you’ll learn the beginning symptoms of neuropathy, how to manage neuropathy, and more about the condition itself. This information will empower you to seek help from a medical professional if you suspect that you have the condition or are currently struggling to manage the symptoms. 

What Is Neuropathy?

Neuropathy, or peripheral neuropathy, is damage or dysfunction of one or more nerves. Rather than a single condition, neuropathy refers to a variety of health problems and the resulting symptoms that involve peripheral nerve damage. Neuropathy can be caused by diabetes, chemotherapy, HIV, physical trauma, autoimmune disorders, vascular disorders, vitamin deficiencies, and more.

This condition is chronic, incurable, and can affect people of all ages. However, there are ways of managing its symptoms and slowing its progression. Unfortunately, many people that are living with neuropathy have no idea that they’re suffering from nerve damage. That’s why it’s so important to know the various neuropathy symptoms.

Diagnosing Neuropathy

neuropathyThe beginning of neuropathy typically presents several symptoms, including tingling in the feet, burning sensations, hypersensitivity to touch or temperature, weakness, and balance issues. You may also have cuts or injuries that you don’t notice or aren’t healing properly, as neuropathy can affect your ability to feel pain. 

Neuropathy is a slow-moving disease with symptoms that progressively worsen over months and years if left untreated. The worst symptoms of neuropathy, which tend to occur when the condition is untreated for too long, include foot ulcers and bacterial infections that can lead to gangrene. 

If you suspect that you may be suffering from neuropathy, it’s essential to seek help from a medical professional today. Your doctor may then refer you to a neurologist to run tests for neuropathy, which include blood and imaging tests, nerve biopsies, and more. Once diagnosed, you can seek out a treatment plan for your condition from a chronic pain specialist. 

Neuropathy Management

If you manage neuropathy properly, you can lessen your symptoms and greatly slow the progression of the condition. Your doctor may prescribe certain medications to manage the pain, but there are things you can do at home to ease the symptoms. This includes eating a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein while being wary of foods that may trigger neuropathic pain, such as caffeine, nuts, and citrus fruits.

Taking care of your feet and engaging in regular exercise also make a difference. Though some fear that walking worsens neuropathy, it can actually help reduce your symptoms. Also, try to avoid excessive alcohol consumption, quit smoking, and monitor your blood glucose levels carefully if you have diabetes.  

You can also seek out personalized treatment for neuropathy in legs and feet, as well as hands, with your nearest pain specialist. 

Our Pain Specialists Can Help

Receiving proper treatment and managing neuropathy properly will make your symptoms much more tolerable, improving your quality of life. Now that you know the warning signs of neuropathy, you can determine if it’s necessary to reach out to a medical professional for help. 

If you live in the Charlotte or Huntersville area, we encourage you to reach out to the Carolinas Pain Center. Our pain specialists serve patients dealing with all types of pain, including neuropathy. We’ll provide you with a personalized care and treatment plan to help you manage your symptoms and slow the progression of the condition. 

To make an appointment with us, please call 704-500-2332 or fill out our online form. We will get back to you as soon as possible. 

Tips for Dealing with Chronic Pain

  • chronic pain

Pain occurs when receptor nerve cells send messages to your brain that your body is hurting. The cause of pain is often obvious, such as a visible bruise or cut. This type of discomfort is called acute pain. Individuals can also suffer from chronic pain, which is ongoing discomfort that may not have a visible source. You may not know how to control pain of this variety. 

You can suffer from chronic pain due to disease, fatigue, internal injuries from an accident, or psychological issues.

Chronic pain is a significant problem because it can affect your mental and emotional well-being and harm your career and relationships. You may find it hard to be happy and enjoy life with chronic pain.

Furthermore, this pain can be debilitating, but it may not qualify as a disability according to insurance companies or employers.

Here is what you need to know about handling chronic pain and what your rights are if you suffer from debilitating discomfort.

What Is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is different from acute pain because of its duration. Pain becomes chronic when it continues beyond the expected recovery period.

Chronic pain can be constant, or it can come and go repeatedly. It is often difficult to treat, and physicians may focus on offering temporary symptom relief.

Migraines are one of the most common forms of chronic pain. These chronic headaches come and go, and physicians often have difficulty isolating their cause.

Conditions such as arthritis or fibromyalgia can also cause debilitating pain. Occasionally, the chronic discomfort is due to an underlying disease, such as cancer or diabetes.

Finally, muscle or tissue damage from accidents, burns, or other types of trauma can cause chronic pain.

Is Chronic Pain a Disability?

chronic pain disability

 

Chronic pain is a disability if it keeps you from doing the activities necessary for daily living, like walking, driving, and doing basic housework.

Unfortunately, chronic pain itself does not qualify you for disability help, such as Social Security benefits. You may be eligible based on the underlying cause of the pain. However, you have to provide documentation of treatments, diagnoses, prescriptions, and the persistence and intensity of the pain.

In most circumstances, you also need to show that the pain has kept you from working or performing daily tasks. The pain needs to last for a year or more before insurers and the Social Security Administration consider it a disability.

 

Pain Coping Strategies

Chronic pain can be stressful and lead to psychological issues and low quality of life. However, you can use proven pain coping strategies, along with treatment, to improve your functionality. 

Here are some ideas for how to control pain: 

chronic pain

  1. Get physically active.
  2. Attend counseling if you feel the pain is affecting your mental health.
  3. Work with a psychologist to learn how to deal with pain so that it does not harm your mental health.
  4. Try alternative treatments, such as acupuncture or massage, for untreatable conditions like arthritis or migraines.
  5. Find a support group for people with similar problems.
  6. Be mindful at home and work of activities that trigger your pain.
  7. Take pain relievers prescribed by your doctor.
  8. Get adequate rest each night and maintain a healthy diet.

 

 

You can also ask your doctor about possible diet changes or other lifestyle choices that can help in coping with chronic pain.

How to Get Help for Your Chronic Pain

The key to treating and coping with chronic pain is to find a physician who is willing to work on a personalized plan that fits your specific situation and needs.

Carolinas Pain Center can tailor chronic pain coping strategies and a treatment program to fit your individual needs. We offer an interdisciplinary approach that relies on medication — modern and traditional — so that you can deal with the pain and have the best chance of getting back to a normal life. Contact Carolinas Pain Center to find out more about our chronic pain services.

Neuropathy: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments & More 

  • neuropathy

Neuropathy: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments & More

Neuropathy or peripheral neuropathy is a nervous disorder in which nerve damage occurs to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord.

In neuropathy, one or more nerves are typically affected and it results in various painful symptoms including pain, muscle weakness, and tingling.  

 Let’s study the symptoms, causes, types, and treatments of peripheral neuropathy in detail.  

Exercising and Chronic Pain

  • Exercise Chronic Pain

Exercising And Chronic Pain 

1.5 billion people around the globe are living with chronic pain – that’s around 20% of the world’s population. Let this sink in for a moment! 

 Chronic Pain Overview

Do Chronic Pain exercises help?

Firstly, chronic pain isn’t mild or occasional; it’s persistent and, at times, excruciating.  

Given that chronic pains indicate the sensitiveness of the nervous system and hinder various bodily functions, many people with chronic pain experience a sharp decline in their mobility.  

Multiple Sclerosis Pain

  • Multiple Sclerosis Pain

Multiple Sclerosis and Pain

Multiple sclerosis (MS) damages nerve fibers in the central nervous system (CNS). Over time, it leads to various problems and pain such as muscle weakness, loss of balance, numbness, and vision problems. Several medications have been found to slow the disease’s progression and can limit nerve damage.  

Pain and Sleep: A Real Nightmare

  • Chronic pain interfere sleep

Can Chronic Pain Interfere with Sleep?

Chronic pain can interfere with work, exercise, activities, and general daily life.  So, At the end of the day, after suffering through pain to complete necessary daily tasks; A good night’s sleep sounds like the perfect cure.  However, for the majority of chronic pain sufferers, laying down for a solid eight hours is unfortunately not that simple.

Can Chronic Pain Interfere with Sleep?

Chronic pain can interfere with work, exercise, activities, and general daily life.  So, At the end of the day, after suffering through pain to complete necessary daily tasks; A good night’s sleep sounds like the perfect cure.  However, for the majority of chronic pain sufferers, laying down for a solid eight hours is unfortunately not that simple.