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What Is Pain Management and How Can It Help You?

A headache from looking at your computer for too long, a neck ache from sleeping wrong, aching legs after a strenuous hike — these are very normal ways to experience pain. But if you have chronic pain — pain that lasts for weeks, months, or even years — it can be incredibly frustrating, and it can keep you from doing the things you love.

Pain is your body telling you that something might be wrong. It can feel like a prick, tingle, sting, burn, or ache. It can be sharp or dull. And you might feel it in one part of your body or everywhere. When that uncomfortable feeling won’t go away, that’s chronic pain.

    5 common causes of chronic pain

  1. A previous injury, such as a car accident
  2. A previous infection, such as meningitis or shingles
  3. An ongoing health issue, such as cancer or arthritis
  4. Environmental causes, such as a physically demanding job
  5. Aging

Pain management helps to treat chronic pain. If you’ve been to your primary care provider and nothing seems to be working, pain management can help alleviate your pain, keep you from relying on potentially addictive medication, and get you back to your normal life.

At Stormont Vail Health, the Pain Management Center has a team of providers that specialize in pain management.

Amanda L. Colgan, M.D., Pain Management physician and anesthesiologist, highlights that they are trained to look at the whole person in order to keep patients functional and moving forward. At Stormont Vail, pain management is not a quick fix, but a way to help cope with the pain long term.

Here’s what you should know about Stormont Vail’s pain management program.

Treatment to Ease the Pain

The primary way the Pain Management Center treats pain is through injections to the area that’s causing you pain. The most common injection is the epidural steroid injection, which goes in the spine. This is used to treat low back pain, neck pain, and pain that stems from those areas, such as leg and arm pain.

Other injections target joints in your back called facet joints, which make you able to bend and twist. These injections can help with neck or low back pain that doesn’t spread to the rest of your body.

Injections may not treat the underlying condition itself, but they can decrease inflammation (swelling) and stop the pain long enough for your body to heal itself from the condition. Because of this, they can provide benefits that outlast the primary effects of the injection.

Medications, such as opioids, are not a typical treatment at the Pain Management Center, largely due to addiction concerns. Dr. Colgan says the Center’s providers do procedures to help give patients longer-term relief without addiction issues. In some cases, non-narcotic medications (Gabapentin, NSAIDs, etc) may be an option as well.

Radiofrequency ablation, a treatment for arthritis, is also available at the Pain Management Center. Using energy that goes through an insulated needle, radiofrequency ablation heats up and damages the nerves temporarily, interrupting pain signals. Results from radiofrequency ablation can last for up to a year.

A Typical Visit to the Pain Management Center

Treatments at the Pain Management Center are much quicker than other treatments, such as surgery. Procedure appointments are typically 30 minutes, and the procedure itself may take as little as 5 minutes to complete. You’ll have an initial visit with a provider to diagnose the problem, and you may schedule a follow-up a few weeks after, if necessary.

If you’re experiencing chronic pain, you might be wondering what’s causing it. At the consultation, you’ll learn what’s really going on in your body and why you are experiencing pain.

During your visit for an injection, your provider will use a small needle to inject you with lidocaine, which will numb the main injection site so you don’t feel the main injection. Then, your provider will guide the injection needle using an X-ray, which reduces the risk of complications, such as nerve damage.

“It’s obviously scary talking about a needle in your back or neck, but our nurses do a wonderful job talking to our patients about the procedure. In the end, patients often say, ‘That’s it? We’re done?’” says Dr. Colgan.

If you had a magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI) at the Pain Management Center, your provider will go over the MRI scans with you. An MRI is done to help your provider determine the exact area that needs to be treated.

Why Choose the Pain Management Center

The pain management providers at Stormont Vail recognize that there are many ways to treat your pain, other than medication. Dr. Colgan says that there are always new procedures coming along, and they stay on top of these new cutting edge options. Pain management providers will offer you the safest and most effective treatment options to alleviate your pain and get you back to living the life you want.

At the Pain Management Center, you’ll also learn about strengthening your body through physical therapy and exercise as well as how you can stretch to alleviate pain. As you age, you’re prone to many issues — especially back pain. Taking ownership of your health should be a priority.

Pain management is an effective treatment for chronic pain — without the focus on medication. It’s quick, simple, and can offer you the pain relief that you deserve.

A referral from your primary care provider is needed to set up an appointment at the Stormont Vail Pain Management Center. Call (785) 270-4440 to schedule an appointment with a Stormont Vail primary care provider.

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