Pain, especially intractable or chronic pain, used to be something many patients simply had to learn to “live” with. In recent years, however, researchers have learned a great deal about pain and its physiological and psychological basis, leading to pain management treatments that can provide complete or partial pain relief.
Untreated pain can interfere with the healing process by affecting the immune system and leading to other undesirable results. In cases of back pain, discomfort can impede the rehabilitation process by interfering with exercise and increasing the risk of psychological distress.
Pain management, also known as pain medicine, draws on many disciplines in science and the healing arts to systematically study pain, its prevention, evaluation, diagnosis and treatment, as well as the rehabilitation of painful disorders.
Role of Pain Management
for Chronic Back Pain
In spine and musculoskeletal cases, pain management serves a variety of purposes. Pain management is usually distinguished from surgical treatment.
Pain management and the techniques it uses may be employed as follows:
- To help identify the source of a patient’s back pain
- As an alternative to surgery, as part of an aggressive conservative (nonsurgical) care program
- To help determine the areas to be addressed surgically
- To help rehabilitate the patient after surgery
- For patients after surgery to cope with residual or recalcitrant pain
Pain management uses a wide variety of techniques to address pain and painful disorders. The scientific basis for these approaches ranges from those that are completely without experimental support to those whose effectiveness has been well demonstrated in clinical trials.
In view of the diverse uses and methods of pain management and pain medicine, an overview of this fast-developing field is needed.
Chronic Back Pain Treatments
In general, pain management techniques can be grouped in terms of their invasiveness.
- Some, such as physical therapy, are not invasive at all and do not inherently involve the use of medications
- Some pain management techniques, such as pain medications, are purely pharmacologic in nature
- Other techniques involve invasive techniques, such as injections