April 03, 2012

Collaborative Pain Management Care in America Gives Better Results

By David Greene

Pain in the United States is an extremely common phenomenon. A report from the Institute of Medicine last year showed that one third of the country is dealing with a chronic pain problem. When the patient seeks treatment at a pain clinic, the most modern treatment plans now consists of comprehensive treatment.

What exactly is comprehensive treatment? This refers to treating pain from multiple approaches in a collaborative manner with different doctors. Patients who present with problems come in with individualized types of problems, and therefore deserve individualized treatment plans.

When folks present with these varying problems it is not the best option to use the same treatment plan again and again without customized an approach. The tailored options give better outcomes.

All of the different providers have varying benefits to patients and provide value. This may entail a medical doctor, a psychiatrist, an osteopathic doctor, a physical therapist, chiropractor, acupuncture, and surgeons.

There truly is not one particular provider who handles comprehensively all aspects of a patient's care. Working collaboratively as a team to address an individual's pain management really does offer the best results. Without this comprehensive approach, individuals often end up just receiving high opioid doses which can lead to significant side effects of addiction, depression, medical tolerance, and in worst cases - overdose fatality.

Let's use an example of a back pain patient. An individual failed back surgery previously and is left with degenerative disc disease and chronic pain. Facet arthritis is also causing pain due to the abnormal resulting spinal motion. The patient has started receiving spinal decompression therapy along with chiropractor treatment and the combination has decreased his pain by 30%.

The chiropractor sends the patient to a pain management doctor who is able to perform a steroid injection inside the disc along with a radiofrequency ablation in his facet joints. These treatments are able to decrease his pain by another 30%. The patient is then sent to physical therapy and begins being seen by a psychiatrist due to depression from the back pain.

The end point of care is that the patient achieved 80% pain relief with comprehensive treatment. He only required non-opioid medications at that point and that is how comprehensive pain management care works. This is what the Institute of Medicine recommended in last year's report to improve pain outcomes in America.

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