Pain is the most common cause of disability in the United States, with one out of every four Americans affected by pain that lasts more than 24 hours. According to the American Pain Association, pain affects more Americans than heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined! In many cases, pain can change your daily routine and activities, affecting every aspect of your life. Pain can even affect your thoughts, as well as the amount and quality of sleep you get each night. That’s why pain management is so important.
What Is Pain Management?
Pain management is a specialized branch of medicine with a focus that includes the evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation of those suffering from pain. A pain management physician serves as a consultant to other physicians but is very often the primary treating physician. Depending on the situation, treatment can include working with the patient directly, prescribing medication, prescribing rehabilitative services, performing pain relieving procedures, and counseling both the patient and family.
Today, pain specialists use a combination of treatments that usually begins with medications along with noninvasive therapies. A partial list of the different treatments includes:
Unfortunately, no single drug works for everyone, and not everyone benefits from prescription drugs.
Anticonvulsants. Medications that work by quieting damaged nerves to slow or prevent uncontrolled pain signals.
Antidepressants. Medications that work by modifying the chemical messengers that relay pain signals. Antidepressants may also help with sleep, which can help patients feel better.
Anti-inflammatories. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), a type of pain reliever. At prescription doses, these drugs also curb inflammation.
Muscle Relaxants. Medications that can calm muscle spasms that cause pain.
Opioids. Medications containing codeine-related drugs. Opioids can only be used for a short time, because they are habit-forming.
Steroids. Medications that help alleviate inflammation and pain.
As with medications, noninvasive treatment techniques are a matter of trial and observation. The following techniques are just a few of those available to help relieve pain. Consult your doctor before beginning any treatment, even if it is noninvasive.
Acupuncture.Studies by the National Institutes of Health show that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for some types of chronic pain. In acupuncture, the practitioner inserts extremely fine, sterilized stainless steel needles into the skin at specific points on the body.
Biofeedback. The process of biofeedback makes one more aware of normally involuntary processes inside the body (such as muscle tension, temperature, and heart rate control). Biofeedback helps the patient gain some conscious control of these processes. This awareness of the body helps with relaxation which can help relieve the pain.
Chiropractic manipulations. Targeted adjustments and manipulations can help correct certain pain signal transmissions.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy. A type of psychotherapy that helps the patient understand what pain means, and develop skills to change negative thoughts about the pain. By changing negative thoughts and behaviors, people can change their awareness of pain and develop better skills for coping, even if the actual level of pain stays the same.
Heat application. Sometimes the application of heat can ease the pain.
Massage. Focused rubbing of the affected area may contribute to relieving the discomfort associated with pain. Massage can also help the patient relax, decreasing stress and tension.
Meditation. A practice that soothes the brain patterns underlying pain, and eventually alters the structure of the brain itself, so the patient no longer feels pain with the same intensity.
Physical therapy. Once acute pain is under control, a physical therapist may design a rehabilitation program to help prevent future injuries. Typical physical therapy involves exercises intended to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility.
Relaxation techniques. Various methods that help the mind alter its focus to something other than the source of pain.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a device that sends a weak electrical current via adhesive patches on the skin near the area of pain. The stimulation may interrupt or mask pain signals, preventing them from reaching the brain.
Yoga. The benefits of stretching and yoga can be helpful alleviate pain, depending on the cause of the pain.
Minimally Invasive Therapies
Electrical stimulation from a probe helps identify affected nerves. Once identified, freezing cycles are initiated over the painful nerves.
Injection. Sometimes pain-killing medication, such as local anesthetics and steroids, can provide pain relief.
Nerve block. Drugs that help interrupt pain messages between the brain and the site of the pain.
Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS). A neurostimulator delivers mild electrical impulses to the epidural space near the source of chronic pain impulses. The pulses interfere with pain signals to the brain. A trial stimulator is typically worn for five to seven days externally. If the trial successfully relieves the pain, the patient may decide to have a permanent SCS placed under the skin.
Surgery may be an option when more conservative measures do not succeed. Surgery is typically used to reduce pressure on certain nerves, which helps alleviate chronic pain.
Dr. Torres completed his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Toledo, followed by an ACGME accredited 2-year Pain Medicine Fellowship at the University of South Florida. Dr. Torres is Board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine through the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Following completion of his training, Dr. Torres accepted a position as faculty in the Department of Anesthesia at Moffitt Cancer Center, providing pain relief through minimally invasive procedures.
Today, Dr. Torres continues to hold a Clinical Assistant Professor appointment in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of South Florida and Department of Neurology teaching Residents and Pain Medicine Fellows.
Novus Spine & Pain Center
Dr. Torres established Novus Spine & Pain Center in Lakeland, Florida with a goal of providing the highest quality pain management care to every patient. Whether pain is the result of an injury or from another condition, Dr. Torres offers many different treatment options.
Novus Spine & Pain Center utilizes a comprehensive approach and cutting edge therapies to restore normal function and allow patients to regain an active lifestyle while minimizing the need for opiates. As our patient, you are our top priority. Our goal is to help you achieve the best possible quality of life.
Our Mission Statement:To provide the best quality of life to people suffering from pain, by providing state of the art treatments, knowledge and skill, compassion, and respect for all.