Millions of people around the world experience chronic pain. The more we have learned about pain, the more we have come to understand just how important treating chronic pain is. Still, it is not a simple as it might sound. There are lots of different ways to treat pain depending on its root causes.
Lone Star Pain Medicine is a Weatherford, Texas clinic that specializes in chronic pain management. The doctors at Lone Star say that effectively treating chronic pain starts with understanding it. In other words, they seek to get to the root causes of pain before attempting to figure out the best way to address it.
As fundamental as that sounds, not all doctors work from that perspective. Far too many are too quick to recommend an over-the-counter NSAID or write a prescription without first trying to fully understand what is going on. Perhaps that’s a symptom of our insurance-driven healthcare system.
Focusing Exclusively on the Pain
Unfortunately, our healthcare system promotes the idea of focusing exclusively on the pain. To illustrate the point, consider gout. You may not realize it, but gout is the most common of all inflammatory forms of arthritis. Acute attacks can be excruciatingly painful.
Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid. When uric acid levels get too high, small crystals can form. Those crystals find their way to the joints where they cause inflammation and pain. The more uric acid a patient’s body is attempting to deal with, the greater the likelihood of regular acute attacks.
One way to address gout is the focus only on alleviating the pain. A doctor might recommend ibuprofen or a prescription NSAID. Corticosteroids are another option. Focusing exclusively on the pain can bring relief, but it does nothing to address the underlying problem of excess uric acid.
Focusing on the Uric Acid
The other way to approach gout is to deal with the pain but focus on the uric acid problem. Reduce the uric acid and you eliminate gout. Pretty simple. But even in this approach, there are two options. The first is a strictly pharmacological option: doctors prescribe a drug to help keep uric acid levels in check.
The second option is to recommend lifestyle changes in hopes that they will naturally reduce uric acid in the patient’s body. Among those lifestyle changes are a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular exercise.
There are certain foods that can exacerbate gout by encouraging uric acid production. Fatty foods and sugary drinks are two examples. Liver, kidneys, and other types of offal can promote increased uric acid. So can seafood. By eliminating all these things from a patient’s diet, uric acid can be better controlled.
Known and Unknown Causes
It is important to understand pain because it can be caused by so many things. There are plenty of known causes ranging from degenerative disease to defined injury. But there are unknown causes, too. In such cases, chronic pain becomes harder to treat. Sometimes doctors have no other choice but to treat pain of unknown origins by prescribing pain medication.
Not knowing the cause of chronic pain does not eliminate the need to continue searching for it. In the meantime, ongoing pain management should not be permanently limited to masking the pain. Masking helps neither patient nor doctor in the long run.
Do you experience chronic pain? If so, don’t settle for an approach that focuses exclusively on the pain. Insist that your doctors search high and low until they understand the root cause of your pain. Then insist that this root cause be addressed.