Everyone has experienced aches and pains, but for some people, pain never disappears. These cases of permanent or long-lasting pain are called chronic pain, and can include conditions like headaches, low back pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. Often, chronic pain cannot be cured. But thanks to pain management programs, you can work closely with a doctor or therapist to minimize your pain and prevent it from interfering in your daily life.
“Pain management programs may not be able to completely get rid of pain,” explains William Burkett, OTR/L, Clinical Supervisor for Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital
’s Pain Management Program
. “Persons with chronic pain have already undergone months to years of treatment for the original event or injury. Instead, a variety of therapies and treatments are used to change the focus to lessening and coping with that pain, and getting you back on the road to doing the things that you enjoy.”
No two people will have the same pain, which is why it’s so important that pain management programs have a variety of options available tailored to each person’s needs.
Each patient who is interested in entering a pain management program should receive a physical and diagnostic evaluation by a physician to determine the type and location of their pain. This evaluation indicates whether further diagnostic testing, such as blood chemistry, x-rays, imaging, or other medical procedures are needed and helps to identify the appropriate interventional procedures and treatment options, including pharmacological, interventional or alternative procedures and techniques.
Physical and Occupational Therapy
Exercise is often the single most effective modality to treat pain. As part of a therapy program, patients follow a graduated regimen of stretching and strengthening to improve cardiovascular fitness, endurance, range of motion and muscle strength. As patients begin managing pain, the treatment components often shift to functional activities that focus on activities of daily living, performing daily tasks and tolerating increased mobility. For patients who strive to return to work, therapists can use real and simulated work tasks to prepare for their return to the workplace.
For some patients, aquatic therapy may be especially effective in helping ease their chronic pain. Warm water decreases pain and improves circulation, making it easier for some patients to move than it would be for them in a regular setting. Besides improved circulation, water resistance can also help build muscle strength.
Psychological treatment can include behavioral training and professional counseling to address stress, depression, or isolation patients may feel as a result of their chronic pain. These psychological factors are equally as important as physical rehabilitation in treating pain. Biofeedback helps patients to learn relaxation skills and techniques to control body responses to pain. Relaxation training has been demonstrated as an effective means for reducing muscle tension and decreasing anxiety levels, both of which can lead to increased perceptions of pain.
In addition to these therapies, other treatment options like acupuncture, nutritional supplements, and holistic approaches have been found to be effective in alleviating chronic pain. What treatment path you choose is a conversation between you and your doctor. Talk to your primacy care physician about whether or not a pain management program is the right approach.
If you are suffering from chronic pain, Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital’s Pain Management Program can help. Our program offers treatments and therapists which address the medical, physical, psychological and social dimensions of pain. For more information, visit our website