Tips for Managing Chronic Pain: Lifestyle Changes May Support Formal Treament By Jon-Paul Harmer, M.D. CEO and Medical Director, Lone Star Pain Medicine, PLLC As the name suggests, chronic pain has the potential to become a life-changing…chronic pain. If you or someone in your family has suffered with regular and ongoing pain for at least six months, you know just how difficult it can be just to get through your “normal” daily routine when you hurt all the time. More than that, by now you’ve probably also endured your fair share of well-meaning but dismissive comments. Things like “it’s all in your head” or “pain medicine is addictive” or “those treatments never work.” Let’s start by stating for the record that your pain is probably not just in your head. In a 2012 survey of 343,000 Americans conducted by Gallup-Healthways, 47 percent of participants reported chronic knee, back or neck pain – and seven percent reported suffering from all three. In fact, the USDA believes that more than 130 million Americans may suffer from chronic or frequently recurring pain. No matter what the media or your family and friends may throw your way, you aren’t alone. More importantly, many patients have more choices than simply suffering in silence or becoming addicted to painkillers. Whatever is causing your pain, whether it’s from injury or from an underlying condition such as diabetes, the caring physicians at Lone Star Pain Medicine know pain is real – and they will do everything they can to help. nerve blocks, biofeedback, electrical stimulation, hypnosis, physical therapy, bone and joint manipulation or counseling. Any one of these treatments and approaches may work well for specific patient issues. For others, however, minimally invasive pain-management treatments or surgery, for example, may provide relief. In fact, state-of-the-industry, research-driven pain-management approaches comprise a variety of proven, cutting-edge treatments. After exploring an appropriate range of therapies, you and your physician might explore a range of nonsurgical, minimally-invasive surgical treatments. Procedures – including, for example, the Mild® procedure, a safe, effective and less invasive alternative for treating certain lower-back symptoms – may be as simple and streamlined as a series of injections. Other less invasive procedures may involve tiny incisions (as small as half a centimeter in some cases) or the use of state-of-the-art micro-surgical tools such as miniature cameras or tiny fiber-optic flashlights. Take the first step: As is the case for any approach to pain management, not everyone will be a viable candidate for every pain medication, procedure or interventional approach – and even the most conservative, carefully balanced approach to pain management may be accompanied by a limited level of risk. The bottom line? You should talk with a physician to begin exploring a treatment approach that may be right for you Responsible medication plays just one part ... It’s a myth that today’s pain-management approaches nec- and your unique pain. To get started, you should push past essarily start and stop with narcotics – and an even bigger the myths and the naysayers and visit a certified pain physician to start determining which of today’s medical breakfallacy that prescription pain medication inevitably leads throughs may work for you. to addiction. According to Web MD, the vast majority of And, as you take this first step toward possible relief, keep people who are given prescriptions for pain utilize their in mind the fact that not all doctors are board-certified in medications correctly, never developing an addiction. In pain management. Lone Star Pain Medicine doctors (www. fact, when medications are used as part of a responsible, balanced treatment approach, signs of addiction or abuse lonestarpain.com) are board-certified in pain management and are required not just to know about, but to keep abreast should be readily spotted by the treating physician who of, emerging treatments, effective approaches, and newly will, then, alter the patient’s plan of treatment. FDA-approved medications. The key to effective pain management starts and stops with a board-certified physician who truly appreciates that The doctors and staff at Lone Star Pain Medicine appreciate your pain and have devoted their medical careers to helpyou and your pain are unique. Effective pain treatments ing people with pain. Like most responsible caregivers, we often are custom-tailored to your individual needs, commake no promises, but we have the experience, the dedicaprising a variety of approaches – from exercise to dietary tion, and the commitment to work with you to develop an changes to, yes, and responsibly prescribed medication. individualized plan of treatment designed to help you get off Today’s pain-management specialists work closely with into the game of life. patients to explore a broad range of appropriate interven- the sidelines and back _____________________________________________ Jon-Paul Harmer, M.D., is board-certified in anesthesiology and pain tional procedures. … of a custom-tailored, balanced treatment plan Treatment options for chronic pain may include things like management, and serves as the CEO and medical director of Weatherfordbased Lone Star Pain Medicine, PLLC (www.lonestarpain.com), a center for excellence in the treatment of pain disorders committed to the recovery of function and the restoration of wellbeing.