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There Is Often Help for Chronic Pain

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Chronic pain is defined as pain lasting longer than 6 weeks and according to Web MD affects 68 million Americans.  It is often the result of accident or injury, surgeries, or in the case of fibromyalgia may occur for unknown reasons.  It often affects muscles or nerves and can be stinging, burning, or throbbing and range from a dull nagging ache to extreme pain that takes people to the ER.  People respond differently to pain.  Some patients tell me that they have a high threshold to pain; very few tell me they have a low threshold!

Just as pain varies and a patient’s response to that pain varies, so do the treatments and the patient’s response to the treatments.  I have treated patients with chronic pain for many years with joint and soft tissue mobilization as well as a simple home program.  Some patients like CranioSacral Therapy as it is relaxing and not painful for them.  Other Physical Therapists use ultrasound and Electric Stimulation as well as exercise to help decrease chronic pain.  Some patients find relief from their pain either partially or fully while others learn how to manage their pain better by modifying their lifestyles.

Many of the patients that I meet with chronic pain tell me that they just try to ignore their pain.  This can be problematic as the pain is the way  our body tells us that we are doing something that it doesn’t like.  This is the time to modify your activity or take a rest.  Some of these patients who ignore their pain may over do activities then suffer a flare up.  That is when they might seek treatment.

We are lucky to have a new physician in town who specializes in Pain Management.  Previously patients had to go to Post Falls to see a pain specialist.  I was very impressed last week when one of my chronic pain patients returned from seeing him after receiving several trigger point injections to the muscles between his shoulder blades.  Prior to the injections he was unable to lie on his stomach for treatment for more than 5 minutes before the pain was so intense he had to roll on his side.  After the trigger point injections, he was able to lie on his stomach for the entire treatment, about 45 minutes.

Trigger points are very painful spots in the muscle that can easily be felt.  The patient will often tell you where “the spot”is.  A skilled MD who injects these trigger points may use a dry needle or inject a small amount of medicine just to numb the injection area.  Just the insertion of the needle may be enough to get the muscle to release and provide pain relief for the patients.  These injections by be given as the only treatment or in conjunction with other therapies.

Mary Boyd, MS, PT is a member of the Sandpoint Wellness Council and owner of Mountain View Physical Therapy and can be reached for questions at 290-5575 or on the web at www.MtnViewPT.com .

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