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Chronic Pain, Pain Management, Pain Treatment, Peripheral Neuropathy, Carolina Pain Scrambler, Greenville South Caorlina

Navigating the Medical Maze

Approximately 100 million people live with chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts 3 to 6 months after the initial injury, surgery or physical trauma. In some cases, chronic pain has no known cause which makes obtaining a diagnosis and proper treatment plan a bit of a maze.

Here are some steps to take to help with the medical maze that often accompanies chronic pain:

Step one

When an individual feels pain and pain-related symptoms, such as tingling, throbbing, aching and swelling, medical attention is usually warranted, especially if the pain intensifies or worsens over time. The first step in obtaining a proper diagnosis (if the pain does not require immediate attention which would require a visit to an emergency department) is to make an appointment with a primary care provider (PCP). A PCP will take a medical history of past injuries, surgeries, medications and any other current or past conditions. An overall physical exam is typically performed to rule out any potential underlying illnesses that could be the cause of pain. Depending on the medical opinion of the PCP, a referral to a specialist may be provided. It is important to note that a chronic pain diagnosis requires that an individual has dealt with pain for 3-6 months or longer.

Step two

The next step involves seeing a specialist. The type of specialist an individual is referred to depends on the location of the pain and any test results from the primary care physician. Some of the most common specialists an individual may be referred to include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Rheumatologists
  • Orthopedists
  • Neurologists
  • Doctors of internal medicine
  • Physiatrists (Doctors of physical medicine and rehabilitation)

A specialist also takes a medical history, often asking very similar questions to the PCP. They also typically perform a physical exam, which may differ from the PCP’s exam; an exam with a specialist is often more in-depth. Depending on the specialist’s findings, more tests may be ordered, such as a CT scan or MRI. The specialist may also refer the individual to another medical specialist.

After consulting with a specialist, the hope is to receive a diagnosis and a treatment plan. However, this isn’t always the case; oftentimes, individuals endure multiple appointments and undergo numerous tests before a proper diagnosis and treatment plan is secured.

Step three

Pain management is complicated and is often a process of trial and error. While medication is the most common treatment option for chronic pain, a multitude of other treatment options are available. Deciding on a treatment plan is a process that involves both the health care provider and the individual. Generally, six treatment categories for managing chronic pain are available:

  • Medications
  • Interventional procedures (nerve blocks or injections)
  • Rehabilitative and occupational therapy
  • Pain psychology
  • Complementary alternative medicine (acupuncture, massage, etc.)
  • Self-management (diet, exercise and lifestyle changes)

Useful tips while navigating the medical maze

Finding doctors, securing appointments, undergoing tests and receiving a proper diagnosis does not happen overnight; it can be a lengthy process. Until a pain management plan is in place, some tips to deal with the pain include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Learn stress management techniques
  • Practice pacing oneself, even on the good days
  • Set realistic goals
  • Try to keep moving
  • Use distraction
  • Eat healthy
  • Keep a pain log

Article Provided By: PainScale

Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SC
If you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com
Chronic Pain, Pain Management, Nerve Pain Treatment, Peripheral Neuropathy, Carolina Pain Scrambler Center, Greenville South Carolina

Distraction Techniques for Chronic Pain

While medical treatments are essential when dealing with chronic pain, various complementary techniques are also available to combat pain. One of these valuable techniques is distraction.

Benefits of distraction

Focusing on pain can increase the perception of pain. It can also negatively affect an individual’s mood and increase feelings of helplessness. Changing that focus by using distraction not only prevents the focus-based increase in pain perception, but may actually reduce levels of pain.

Research on distraction techniques

Considerable research has been done on the use of distraction techniques as a tool for coping with pain, sometimes known as distraction analgesia. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that focusing on a task created distraction analgesia in many individuals with chronic pain. Dr. Ted Jones found that distraction decreased pain in 90 percent of his patients, usually by 20 to 50 percent. Distraction techniques have proven to be so effective that health care providers at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford currently use distraction-based virtual reality therapy with pediatric patients to reduce their pain and anxiety.

Suggestions for distraction

Individuals can try distraction to reduce their pain levels when they find themselves focusing solely on their pain. Engaging in an enjoyable activity provides distraction while also emphasizing the positive aspects of life. Participating in a hobby or a favorite pastime with family or friends prevents isolation and also provides distraction. Activities that require intense concentration, such as puzzles, games or skill tests, are also an effective way to divert attention away from pain.

Using distraction techniques helps provide individuals with a greater sense of control over their pain, which can improve mental well-being. Distraction can play a significant role in how individuals cope with chronic pain on a daily basis.

Article Provided By: PainScale

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If you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com
Chronic Pain, Pain Management, Peripheral Neuropathy, Nerve Pain Treatment, Carolina Pain Scrambler, Greenville South Carolina

Types of Massages for Chronic Pain

Why Massage Therapy for Chronic Pain?

Massage therapy is turning out to be more broadly accepted as a dependable treatment for many types of chronic pain within the medical community. It is also accepted as an adjunct to other medical treatments. In general, massage is rarely given as the primary or sole treatment for pain management. It is often employed as one factor of therapy and to aid in preparing the patient to partake in exercise or other treatment methods. Regardless, massage can be an essential and operative component of your pain management routine.

Massages have been revealed to be especially effective in mitigating back pain. Due to the fact that back pain is a component of a wide array of pain conditions, massage is often considered to be beneficial to the healing process. Moreover, different types of massage will be useful for different segments of the body. Specifically, acupressure and shiatsu are intended to relieve different types of pain in different regions. Neuromuscular treatment is typically beneficial in relieving “referred” pain, which is pain that is activated by one part on the body, but is felt in an entirely different area.

Benefits of Massage Therapy

In general, benefits of massage therapy include: increased blood flow and enhanced circulation; muscle relaxation which subsequently improves range of motion; increased endorphin levels; improved sleep and lessened bouts of insomnia. Enjoy this quick summary on various types of massage that may be appropriate for you.

Swedish Massages

This is the most popular type of massage, therefore, most research regarding the benefits of massage have utilized Swedish massage techniques. It is important to note that Swedish massage is very gentle and does not target precise pain points or apply deep pressure. It is widely recognized as being highly relaxing which is excellent for sufferers of acute or chronic pain. Despite how mild Swedish massage is, it enhances blood flow and thus can aid in the removal of excess lactic acid from muscles, thereby helping alleviate muscle pain.

Neuromuscular Massages

This type of massage therapy is also known as “trigger point” massage due to the fact that it targets regions of tension and muscular spasm in the back. The massage therapist directs pressure to a particular region of interest. Neuromuscular massage can sometimes cause soreness at the outset since the focus of its pressure is directly on tender regions. Be sure to communicate with your therapist to identify the appropriate pressure. Similar to Swedish massage, neuromuscular massage also works to flush lactic acid out of the muscles to alleviate pain.

Acupressure

This type of massage stimulates vital spots on the body to impede pain sensations and stimulate the natural pain relievers of the body. In general, the best approach for pain relief is to apply sustained pressure on vital points for one to three minutes. This pressure is applied by using hands, fingers, or other devices.

Shiatsu

This form of massage is very similar to acupressure, as the word shiatsu literally means “finger pressure”. The primary difference is that practitioners of shiatsu do not use their full hand to apply pressure – only the fingers are used.

Article Provided By: PainScale

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If you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com
Chronic Pain, Peripheral Neuropathy, Nerve Pain Treatment, Pain Management, Carolina Pain Scrambler, Greenville South Carolina, Psychological

Psychological Effects of Chronic Pain

The fact of the matter is that chronic pain wears on you. It’s difficult to bear not only physically, but mentally. Since more than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, the psychological effects of pervasive pain are far reaching in our society. Understanding the psychological issues that accompany chronic pain is important for pain specialists and patients alike.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief have been used to break down and describe the experiences of people when they are grieving, giving a name and potentially helping people cope with feelings that seem all-powerful when you’re experiencing them. Chronic pain, both the diagnosis and experience, presents similar emotional upheaval. One PsyD, a Doctor Jennifer Martin, created the ‘7 stages of Chronic Pain and Illness’ to offer pain sufferers and physicians with a similar delineation. It’s important to remember that a person may experience these stages out of order or may circle back to an earlier stage. She describes them as follows:

Denial

When people realize that their pain may not be going away, it’s tough to swallow. They often experience shock and denial, which may prevent them from seeking out the help that they need to obtain proper treatment.

Pleading, Bargaining, and Desperation

Patients in this stage look for anything that may fix their condition or act as a bandage. They often bargain, either with themselves or a God, to make it better, all the while blaming themselves and experiencing tremendous guilt.

Anger

Once people understand that there’s no magical fix for their condition, they often experience anger. They may be mad at anyone related to their condition, including family, friends, care providers, employers, and anyone else they can tie their decline to.

Anxiety and Depression

Living with chronic pain can be scary and may bring on anxiety. It may also lead to depression. This occurs when a person feels hopeless, exhausted, and experience intense grief. This depression isn’t necessarily a mental illness, but an appropriate reaction to this type of change.

Loss of Self and Confusion

Chronic pain may lead to patients losing an integral part of their life. They may not be able to do the things they once did any longer, which can lead to an identity crisis of sorts.

Reevaluation of Life, Roles, and Goals

At this stage, people begin to come to terms with potential limitations and life changes. They begin to find a way to live their life within their new normal. Changing expectations of what things should be can help chronic pain patients find happiness despite their condition.

Acceptance

This doesn’t necessarily mean being alright with the way things are now. It simply means they’ve accepted the reality of their condition and are taking steps to live within that reality. It means choosing to move forward despite chronic pain.

Article Provided By: PainScale

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If you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com
Chronic Pain, Pain Management, Peripheral Neuropathy, Nerve Pain Treatment, Carolina Pain Scrambler, Greenville South Carolina, Stress

Stress and Chronic Pain

Stress can worsen chronic pain. Although the exact relationship between stress and chronic pain is not known, several theories exist:

Muscle tension

Stress causes tension in the muscles, which can cause or increase pain, especially pain in the neck, shoulders and back. Studies show that thinking or talking about a stressful event increases tension in the back muscles of those with chronic back pain. When stress is chronic, muscles are often in a constant state of tension. This tension can lead to other pain, such as headaches and migraines.

Pain signals

The brain is constantly trying to inhibit pain signals, especially if a chronic pain condition is present. However, when a person is stressed, the brain’s ability to hinder those signals is reduced, which increases pain.

Inflammatory response

When stress is experienced, the immune system’s inflammatory response is activated. This inflammation can cause pain, especially with chronic pain conditions sensitive to inflammation, such as arthritis.

Perception

Stress can also increase the perception of pain. When dealing with stressors, the perception of pain may become more intense and overwhelming.

Coping tools

Relaxation techniques (yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, etc.), practicing good sleep hygiene, or seeing a mental health professional, such as a pain psychologist or psychiatrist, can decrease stress, and therefore, reduce pain. These practices can boost mood and improve daily function in those with chronic pain conditions.

Article Provided By: PainScale

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If you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com
Chronic Pain, Peripheral Neuropathy, Nerve Pain Treatment, Carolina Pain Scrambler, Greenville South Carolina

Optimizing Productivity with Chronic Pain

On average, employees that suffer from chronic pain undergo five hours of non-productivity in one week. When this figure is averaged over one year, it amounts to a loss of $5,000 in productivity for each employee.

5 tips to be more productive

1. Know your triggers and the way to deal with them

A majority of individuals with chronic pain have particular triggers. If you have been dealing with it for a long time, it becomes easier to figure out the things that worsen such pain. Using this information, you can stay away from all the triggers and work easily.

2. Never give up

You might think that living with pain for such a long time will definitely make you lose all hope. This is where you’re wrong! Ask your doctor for continuous treatment and try to find out the cause of the pain regardless of the time it takes. Instead of lowering your expectations, start raising them up.

3. Stand up for yourself

In order to work efficiently, while dealing with chronic pain, you need to advocate for yourself. Inform the people around you if you feel a migraine coming. Asking your employer for some time off for rest is better than doing a bad job and then having the people you work with question you. Remember, no one else can speak on your behalf.

4. Adopt healthy habits

Each case of chronic pain is different, and there are possible reasons for almost every ache that you feel. However, there are people that experience undiagnosed pains and aches. For such people, the best thing is to adopt a healthy style.

Try your best to maintain a balanced and healthy diet, and remove all processed foods. Remove harmful chemicals from you home, like household cleaners. Don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated.

Of course, leave bad habits like excessive drinking and smoking behind. Start exercising for half an hour each day. These simple changes in a lifestyle will help you feel mentally and physically better.

5. Look for an understanding employer

Having an employer that understands your condition is vital. Working for a person that has dealt with chronic pain also makes working with your chronic pain condition cope-able because they are likely to show understanding and compassion, as well as be ready to help you.

Article Provided By: PainScale

Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SC
If you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com
Chronic Pain, Pain Management, Pain Treatment, Peripheral Neuropathy, Carolina Pain Scrambler Center, Greenville South Carolina

Chronic Pain in the Workplace

Chronic pain conditions can have a negative impact on an individual’s career. Work days may be missed due to increased pain levels or physician appointments. Extra breaks may be needed, or employees may request to work from home. Production at work may decrease and stress may increase. Talking with supervisors and colleagues about a chronic pain condition may be uncomfortable or overwhelming for some individuals.

Developing a strategy to effectively communicate with managers and colleagues about chronic pain conditions may actually reduce pain levels. Communication in the workplace concerning chronic pain involves various factors.

Acknowledgment of pain

Financial obligations can cause individuals to dismiss their pain while at work; however, productivity often declines when pain symptoms are ignored. This may cause co-workers to wonder why the individual is less productive or frequently missing work. When an employee explains their chronic pain condition to supervisors and/or co-workers, tension in the workplace often decreases.

Privacy rights

Individuals with a chronic pain condition are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Information shared between an employee and their human resource department or supervisors is confidential, and individuals with chronic pain are not required to share details of their condition. However, documentation from a health care professional that explains their diagnosis and any limitations may be required.

Effective communication

Requesting accommodations for increased productivity is important. Communication about accommodations with a supervisor or human resources department should be honest and straightforward without an air of entitlement. A positive, non-demanding tone of voice should be used. While it is a personal decision whether to share a chronic pain condition with co-workers, individuals may ease tension in the workplace by simply stating that they have a condition that causes a lot of pain. The proper balance of discretion and open communication is often complicated.

Accommodations

Proof of disability from a health care professional may be required by an employer when specific accommodations are requested. Employers need their employees to be productive; therefore, if accommodations will increase productivity, they should be requested. It is often helpful to begin with simple accommodations first, such as changing flight arrival or departure times; more significant requests can be made after a supervisor is made aware of the importance of accommodations. However, an employee should not attempt to perform any duties that could be harmful to their health. Individuals should note that employers are not required to make all accommodations that are requested. The Americans with Disability Act provides provisions to protect employers from “undue hardship” that may arise from accommodation requests.

Employee-assistance programs

Some employers and unions have employee-assistance programs that offer counseling. A counselor can recommend evidence-based treatments to reduce pain symptoms and suggest tools to increase work productivity.

Daily tips

Individuals should take a break and stretch every hour if their job requires sitting at a desk for several hours at a time. Gentle exercising or walking can be done during the lunch hour to avoid stiffness.

Article Provided By: PainScale

Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SC
If you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com
Chronic Pain, Nerve Pain Treatment, Pain Management, Peripheral Neuropathy, Pain Treatment, Carolina Pain Scrambler, Greenville South Carolina

Psychological Stages of Chronic Pain

People with chronic pain may have a hard time understanding the psychological changes they go through. It may also be hard to explain these feelings to other people. Understanding the psychological effects of chronic pain is an important part of the healing process. Here are the seven psychological stages of chronic pain you need to be aware of.

Denial

Denial is often the first stage of pain. People who are in denial may think their pain will go away or that it is all in their head. They may also believe that their doctor is wrong about their diagnosis.

Desperation

During the desperation stage, a person begins to understand that their life is not the same as it used to be. The person becomes fixated on trying to figure out what they did wrong to cause the pain. Desperation is often accompanied by guilt or pleading to become a better person if the pain goes away.

Anger

Anger comes after despair as the chronic pain patient realizes that they cannot make their pain go away so quickly. This may be accompanied by thoughts such as, “I didn’t do anything to deserve this. This is not fair!” Anger is a necessary part of the healing process and should be addressed right away.

Depression and Anxiety

Once a person realizes they are going to be dealing with chronic pain permanently, they start feeling depressed or anxious. They retreat and do not want to go out in public or see loved ones. They may be bombarded by medical bills and don’t know how they are going to pay them. The depression and anxiety stage can be described as a sense of total loss of the life the affected person once had.

Confusion

Chronic pain may mean that a person has to give up the things they once loved doing, such as their career or hobbies. This can cause the person to become confused about who they are. Collective thoughts may include, “I don’t even recognize myself anymore.”

Forming New Life Goals

During this stage, the person affected begins to develop new goals that must be done to get through the day. This may include thoughts such as, “I may not be able to run every day anymore, but I can walk several times a week.”

Acceptance

Acceptance comes when the person has finally accepted their chronic pain as a daily part of their life. They may still have days when they are depressed or angry, but their focus now primarily lies in overcoming the pain. Common thoughts are, “I am not going to let this define me.”

Article Provided By: PainScale

Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SC
If you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com
Chronic Pain, Pain Relief, Pain Therapy, Pain Management, Nerve Pain Therapy, Carolina Pain Scrambler, Greenville South Carolina

Challenges of Living With Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is complex: the symptoms vary in duration, intensity and are highly individualized. However, individuals with chronic pain often share many of the same frustrations, difficulties, and challenges.

Getting out of bed may be difficult.

When living with chronic pain, it may be physically difficult to get out of bed. Many people with chronic pain report increased pain when they wake up in the morning.

Emotions are often affected.

Dealing with chronic pain often affects emotions. The mind and body are inherently connected. Depression may develop when chronic pain affects the ability to work, socialize and exercise. Chronic pain can lead to depression, and depression can worsen chronic pain; it is often a vicious cycle.

Sleeping may be difficult.

Symptoms of chronic pain can prevent restorative sleep. Lack of proper sleep can cause reduced energy and increased pain during waking hours. Practicing proper sleep hygiene can help.

Daily chores may be overwhelming.

On days when chronic pain is manageable, individuals may try to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. However, pushing oneself can cause fatigue and rebound pain. The practice of activity pacing can help create balance and manage pain levels.

The ability to concentrate may be impaired.

When pain is heightened, it may be difficult to accomplish tasks that require concentration. During these times, practicing mind-based coping techniques can calmly distract the mind.

Family and friends may not understand.

It is often difficult for others to understand the challenges of living with chronic pain. Even the most well-intentioned family and friends may need guidance to understand the daily difficulties associated with chronic pain. It may be helpful to share an open letter about chronic pain with friends and loved ones.

Article Provided By: PainScale

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If you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com
Chronic Pain, Pain Relief, Peripheral Neuropathy, Carpal Tunnel, Nerve Pain Treatment, Pain Management, Carolina Pain Scrambler, Greenville South Carolina

How Is Chronic Pain Diagnosed?

Chronic pain is defined as any type of pain that persists longer than six months. The pain may come and go, or it may be present all the time. Getting diagnosed properly is an important part of developing the right treatment plan.

Valuable questions

In order to determine pain levels, a health care provider often asks important questions, such as the following:

  • When did the pain begin?
  • What does the pain feel like?
  • Where is the pain located?
  • What pain treatments have been tried? Did they help?
  • Does the pain impact everyday life?
  • How is the pain affecting the ability to function?
  • What activities make the pain worse?
  • Does the pain interfere with sleep?
  • Does the pain cause mood fluctuations?

Tracking this information at home and maintaining a pain log is an effective way to help a health care provider determine a diagnosis and find appropriate treatments.

What is a pain scale?

A pain scale is a tool used by health care providers to determine the severity of pain. There are different types of pain scales and the type of information the scale gathers often depends on the scale. Information gathered includes, but is not limited to: pain severity, duration, pain type, and emotional impact. Informing the health care provider of fluctuations of pain levels throughout the day is helpful for diagnosis and treatment. If certain things make the pain worse or better, be sure to label those activities with a pain number and tell the provider.

What other tests are done to diagnose chronic pain?

In addition to using a pain scale, a doctor may also order an MRI, a CT scan, and/or an X-ray to determine a proper diagnosis. Other diagnostic tests include, but are not limited to: muscle function tests, nerve conduction tests, bone scans, and blood tests.

Article Provided By: PainScale

Carolina Pain Scrambler Logo, Chronic Pain, Greenville, SC
If you would like to discuss what Carolina Pain Scrambler do to help relieve your chronic pain symptoms or receive more information on our treatment process, please do not hesitate to call us at 864-520-5011 or you can email us at info@carolinapainscrambler.com
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