By Dr. Michael J. Cooney
Chronic pain can sneak up on you. You’re diagnosed with a disease / condition that causes constant pain and before you know it, months or even years have passed and you are still living in pain and relying on your original treating doctor for pain therapy treatment.
One of the complaints we hear most often from our patients is the fact that they waited “too long” before consulting with a doctor who specializes exclusively in treating neuropathy. Don’t get me wrong – this is certainly not a dig at physicians or doctors in general. Rather, it is a discussion about when the time comes to find a doctor who specializes in your condition and offers a wide spectrum of expertise and resources to help you.
Might you be in this situation? Here are some guidelines to know when the time is right to find a pain management specialist:
Your pain just won’t go away.
If you have pain that is not significantly minimized after three months.
Family and internal medicine doctors specialize in many areas of healthcare. Pain management practitioners specialize exclusively in resolving acute, chronic and severe pain. Pain specialists are trained to evaluate complex pain problems and have a wide variety of treatment options you may not know about.
You want to stop taking prescription painkillers and utilize alternative treatments which are drug-free, pain-free and have few, if any, unpleasant side effects.
Pain specialists have a wide spectrum of traditional and alternative treatments to battle several types of neuropathy from physical therapy to acupuncture and newer non-invasive pain treatments.
You are taking more and more medications to treat your pain and it isn’t helping.
Over time, most medications become less effective at decreasing pain (“tolerance”). A pain specialist can help review the medications you have been using and usually find alternatives that can help manage your pain more effectively.
In my case, as a chiropractic physician, we’ll implement therapies that don’t even involve the use of medications, in many cases. (This was my original impetus to introduce Calmare Pain Therapy Treatment to my patients).
You want to know if you have any alternatives to surgery.
Many patients have pain that can be quite severe but view surgery as the last possible treatment alternative. Additionally, some patients’ pain is a result of surgery so they are obviously reticent about undergoing more operations.
Your pain has decreased with treatment but your progress has stopped or stalled.
Increasingly, people are not willing to settle for a life living with “manageable” or “bearable” pain day-in and day-out. Often, patients make steady progress with family doctor-prescribed medications or therapies but reach a point where their pain is no longer lessened.
When a doctor has utilized all the methodologies at his disposal but the pain is still present, it may be time to seek out a pain management specialist.
Don’t we all want to live our lives without any pain? Don’t settle and don’t give up. There are a wealth of viable, high quality treatments to combat many types of neuropathy. Find a doctor who understands the origin of your pain and offers a detailed treatment protocol strategy designed specifically for you.
Once treatment begins, call or email your doctor and give him an update about how you are feeling. Don’t politely wait until your next appointment. If something isn’t working, your doctor can make changes and adjustments. Always remember, as a patient, you are the doctor’s customer.