Pain Management Specialists for Managing Chronic Pain at University Hospitals
Everyone experiences pain at some time in their lives. Acute pain can be due to injury, illness, or surgical procedures. This pain often resolves as the body’s natural processes lead to healing.
Sometimes, however, pain does not resolve and instead becomes a constant part of daily life. This chronic pain can cause both physical and psychological distress, and it can be particularly upsetting when there is no obvious cause and no immediate remedy. Regardless of its source, chronic pain can lead to decreased daily function and psychological suffering including depression, anxiety and anger.
UH Pain Management Institute
University Hospitals Pain Management Institute is a multidisciplinary initiative that includes top-rated pain management doctors from primary care, surgery, emergency medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, anesthesiology and the UH Connor Integrative Health Network to treat and manage chronic pain.
Through these partnerships, University Hospitals is working to:
- Optimize safe and effective pain management treatments and techniques
- Improve prescribing, follow-up and management of opioids
- Better identify and treat patients at risk for addiction and other psychological complications of pain
The mission of the UH Pain Management Institute is to maximize function and minimize risk for patients with pain, through a variety of means, including:
- Provider and patient education
- Multimodality treatment
- Research on pain conditions
At UH, we understand that no one chronic pain treatment is right for every patient. Non-opioid medication treatments, and non-medication therapies such as physical therapy and integrative therapies, are increasingly being recommended as front-line resources for patients. Our goal is to create treatment plans and incorporate multiple treatment modalities, so that each patient receives maximum benefit. Your personalized treatment plan will be as individual as you are.
Common Components of Pain Management
- Pain management skills training
Pain management skills training: Individuals with chronic pain often find it difficult to keep up with work, child care, socializing with friends and family, hobbies, household chores, and other normal activities. They can become isolated, inactive, depressed, and fearful of further pain. All these changes result from the ongoing pain, but also add to the distress caused by the pain. Fortunately, there is a great deal chronic pain patients can do to resume valued activities, improve their mood, and improve their quality of life, all without increasing their pain. By working with a health psychologist, chronic pain patients can learn how to apply such skills as relaxation, mood management, activity pacing, good sleep habits, and social skills to minimize the impact of pain.
While these techniques do not eliminate the medical problems causing the pain, they allow chronic pain sufferers to take back control of their lives, and become themselves again. By applying appropriate pain management skills, patients often find that “While I still have the pain, the pain no longer has me.”
- Integrative medicine
Integrative medicine: The providers at University Hospitals Connor Integrative Health Network can help treat chronic pain using specialized services that embrace the benefits of providing healing with a more holistic approach. Services include:
- Interventional procedures
Interventional procedures: Interventional pain management uses pain blocking techniques such as surgical procedures, electrostimulation, radiofrequency procedures, injections or nerve blocks, or other methods to help manage pain symptoms. Sometimes interventional procedures may be used in conjunction with other pain management techniques, such as therapy and prescription medications, as part of a multidisciplinary plan for managing pain.
- Medication management
Medications are an integral part of managing pain. However, pain management medications should not be equated with opioid narcotics. Opioid narcotics are used to manage terminal pain often related to cancer but have not been shown to be effective in the long-term management of non-cancer related pain.
Often, chronic pain may have a neuropathic component. In this case, atypical pain medications including anti-seizure and antidepressant medications are used. These have a proven record in the management of neuropathic pain.
Medication management is only one part of the overall treatment for pain, which often involves other measures including physical therapy, minimally invasive interventions, and other modalities such as psychological interventions and complementary therapies.
- Physical and occupational therapies
Physical and occupational therapies: Certified physical therapists and occupational therapists can play an important role in pain management through the various types of therapies and techniques they use with patients. Many occupational and physical therapists will use various forms of exercise to not only promote and restores normal function, but as a primary pain management tool as well. Physical therapy encompasses a wide range of treatments, such as massage, joint manipulation and dry needling. This means patients who do not respond to one method may find relief in another. Unlike some other methods of reducing pain, physical therapy aims not to stop pain quickly and temporarily, but over time and for the long term. This is why it is a good option for patients who want to avoid taking opioid painkillers.
- Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) physicians, or physiatrists, specialize in preventing, diagnosing, treating and rehabilitating an array of disorders and injuries. Physiatrists evaluate and treat both acute and chronic pain, including physical and/or cognitive impairments and disabilities that result from musculoskeletal, neurological and other conditions.
- Addiction Treatment Services
Addiction Treatment Services: Our addiction recovery program was established to help patients struggling with substance abuse, many of whom may also be suffering from chronic pain. We work with patients to address their addiction, as well as other emotional and physical symptoms.