If you’re one of some 100 million Americans suffering with chronic pain – a conservative estimate at that based on various pain websites – you don’t need a designated chronic pain awareness month to know that you hurt. Your body’s message is loud and clear. But with September being chronic pain awareness month, there’s an important message to get out that might be muffled by that chronic pain.
That message is that there’s help.
Maybe your pain is so relentless that it’s hurting your job, your relationships, and your finances. Maybe you’re concerned about becoming addicted to pain medications.
Know that everybody we see gets some form of improvement – and we are not a pill mill. That’s important to us as American Academy of Pain Medicine says prescription drugs are now the second-most abused – after marijuana.
What Exactly is Chronic Pain?
Pain has its roots in self-preservation. When the first fire was built, and probably touched, the signal sent from the nerves through the spinal cord to the brain resulted in the hand being pulled out of the flames. That’s a good thing.
But pain that endures is not.
With acute or non-chronic pain, there is an injury. The body responds by releasing chemicals – or fluid – that send that signal to the brain. That’s inflammation, which also causes a pressure buildup that different nerve sensors can interpret as pain. So you see swelling around the aching ankle you just twisted or a bruise on the painful portion of your leg you just banged because of the addition of broken blood vessels under the skin.
Let’s say you tear a ligament in your knee. Even though it heals, it will never be as strong as before. That inherent instability could lead to chronic pain down the road – or pain that doesn’t go away after a few months. It really gets down to how you take care of your body overall. Excessive weight gain, for example, will put excessive pressure on that unstable area. Lifestyle is huge:
- Are you a truck driver, for example, who sits for hours and hours on end without any stretching, grabs some fast food, a few hours’ sleep and then starts it all over again?
- Do you spend your day at a computer, all hunched over with back and neck muscles in awkward positions? And then go home to plop in front of the TV?
- What repetitive daily activities do you do that aren’t conducive to good health?
- And then might you subject your unconditioned body to too much activity one weekend?
Keep in mind, too, that numbness and tingling means there’s something going on with a nerve. It’s not a normal response to using a keyboard, for example.
Along with old injuries, chronic pain can also be caused by:
- Failed surgeries. Surgery is not the last option.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- And sometimes the cause is not so clear-cut.
There is no magic recipe, of course, to prevent chronic pain. However, some simple steps – including a nutritious diet, moderate physical activity and acknowledging that there is a weakness in a particular area of your body so that you don’t reinjure it – are starting points.
Seeking Relief From Chronic Pain
When you walk into our bright, airy, clean clinic, what you’ll notice first is that it’s not intimidating. It’s actually a fun place to be. Yes, fun. At Pain Stop – North Phoenix, we see a diverse group of patients with every type of pain – many two or three times a week at first. We know your names, and each of our 15 staff members is happy to help.
You will see either me or my husband, Pierce Waychoff, DC, clinic director and owner – who’s also the triage guy – every time. He will perform the initial exam and consultation, determine what diagnostic testing might be warranted, devise an individualized treatment plan and refer you to the right in-house medical provider.
While there are many options – such as maybe injecting a thick lubricating fluid into a knee joint that’s been worn down to bone on bone – we find a combination of treatments is often most effective. Again, that combination will be dictated by your particular pain and subsequent progress.
Typically the only reason we wouldn’t be able to help is because another specialty is required, such as back pain that’s caused by a kidney infection or a broken bone that needs to be set. In that case, we’ll point you in the right direction.
By Erin Waychoff, DC
Owner of Pain Stop-North Phoenix