As technology improves our understanding of pain and its triggers, patients are taking advantage of new, effective management strategies.
WEDNESDAY, July 27, 2016 (HealthCarePass)
You no longer have to settle for the traditional, “one-sized-fits-all” approaches to treating chronic pain. That’s the message being delivered by a growing number of physicians, health advocates, and pain management specialists across the country.
Thanks to remarkable advances in medical technology, including brain research that reveals new clues about the causes of pain, as well as studies showing the mental health risks of traditional therapies (i.e. narcotic painkillers), the field of pain management is expanding to offer a wide range of promising new options.
As these new pain-management strategies begin to gain followers across the country—and as research supports their effectiveness—those struggling with pain can now feel more empowered than ever to make conscious and personalized choices about their treatment. They no longer have to settle for traditional therapies (often limited to prescription medications or expensive surgeries) and can select from a wide range of options that fit their specific type of pain and lifestyle.
If you or a loved one is experiencing any type of chronic pain, you may want consider these 4 new ways to better manage pain:
1) Consider “New Technology”
New medical technology has resulted in the development of several intriguing non-surgical, non-medication pain therapies. For example, radio frequency ablation involves the heating of a small area of nerve tissue in order to decrease the transmission of pain signals to the brain. On the other side of the spectrum is iOvera, where an orthopedic specialist literally freezes the nerves that are causing pain sensations using an external cryogenic device. There are also strategies like TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), which utilizes low-level electrical currents to block pain signals. Since these therapies do not involve invasive surgery (and its potentially long recovery periods) or potentially harmful/addictive medications, they are definitely gaining in both popularity and use.
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2) Use a Health Advocacy Group
Although many assume that doctors prescribe pain medications based on careful considerations of the patient’s unique pain characteristics and specific health profile, unfortunately this is not always the case. Due to worsening doctor shortages (especially in non-urban areas), physicians often are limited in how they assess and address the specific needs of every patient they see. In addition, doctors can become pressured to write prescriptions for certain medications by insurance plans and drug companies, who often are primarily focused on treating acute conditions rather than providing long-term solutions.
That’s why using a Health Advocacy Group can make sense. In contrast to the traditional one-size-fits-all approach, patient-focused organizations have started to emerge across the country. At the core of these groups is the belief that the patient deserves to be in the driver’s seat of his or her own treatment and have access to the best health solutions possible. Often, a Health Advocacy Group will offer a complimentary pain-solution-matching service that uses real-time data-analysis technology to locate a customized treatment based on the patient’s unique pain and health profile. For example, a new Health Advocacy Group called HealthRight offers a 2-minute Pain Profile. As part of this complimentary service, they match patients to effective pain treatments and then work directly with insurance providers to ensure that patients get those matched solutions at the lowest possible price. You can take their Pain Profile here.
3) Harness the Power of Your Mind
New brain imaging research has not only improved our understanding of pain’s causes, as well as reasons why it can become such a chronic, debilitating problem; this research has also revealed how the brain itself can become a powerful tool in overcoming pain. For example, studies show that such mind-based therapies as meditation, breathing exercises, biofeedback, and even psychotherapy can help you literally retrain and control the pain centers in your brain. Traditionally, these types of strategies have been only considered to be adjunct or supportive treatments for medications and surgeries, but new research suggests that mind-based therapies may actually be more effective than drugs.
4) Conduct Doctor Visits Online
Pain patients often report that one of the most challenging aspects of managing their pain involves trying to see a doctor when they need to. Whether there is an important issue that needs immediate attention or a patient needs to see a doctor for a medication refill—the mobility limitations that often co-exist with chronic pain can make these doctor visits extremely difficult, if not impossible. Once again, thanks to recent developments in technology, this doesn’t have to be the case.
Several online medical services recently have been created to give patients the flexibility of conducting important doctor visits and nurse consultations over the phone, regardless of geographical location or insurance coverage. Mobile health services like HealthRight are becoming more and more popular. By using this service, patients can access a board-certified U.S. physician or licensed nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—using their phone, computer, tablet, or other mobile device. More and more patients are enjoying the improved speed, effectiveness, and convenience that these real-time doctor and nurse visits offer.