A Coordinated Care Approach To Pain Management

The effects of chronic pain can be debilitating. Immediate long-term ramifications include a downgrade in the quality of life and severe health problems. The most commonly prescribed pain medications for most patients are NSAIDs, Acetaminophen, Antidepressants and Anti-Seizure medications, COX-2 Inhibitors, and Opioids.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are effective in combating mild to moderately severe pain. The medication works by blocking specific body enzymes known as cyclooxygenase (COX) to curtail the effects of pain and inflammation. Opioids, on the other hand, are synthetic medications related to opium. They are widely prescribed to treat acute pain and traumatic injury and work by triggering the endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitters, to suppress pain and promote wellness.

A better long term pain treatment plan should provide a perfect balance between pain relief and management with patient safety. A well-coordinated approach that seeks to understand the pain, whether acute, acute recurrent, or chronic, must be instituted to achieve this goal. The next step is conjuring the right team to take care of the patient’s chronic pain.

Many practices are increasingly embracing a holistic approach to dealing with pain since it is impactful and targets all the elements causing pain, whether physical, cognitive, or emotional barriers. Another crucial area of planning is following evidence-based guidelines to achieve the best treatment and care outcome. Below are four critical elements of a well-coordinated care approach to pain management.

The Self-Management Model

Self-management of pain is a common practice that marks the beginning of treatment intervention at the individual level. The pain management strategy entails active patient participation and empowerment. Treatment focuses on the ailment and the entire body. The patient may seek an informed opinion from friends and sources like the internet. Other strategies include attending group classes to learn about the pain, taking OTC medications, exercising, limiting activities to limit pain triggers, among other forms of a self-management intervention.

The Pain Model

The pain model kicks in when the patient reaches out to a care provider. If the patient goes to a healthcare facility, a primary care physician will examine the patient and provide a diagnosis. The clinician can follow through by prescribing support medication, ordering imaging scans, and suggesting surgery and other higher levels of intervention. Primary care clinicians are charged with prescribing most pain medications.

In serious cases, the treatment may involve a multi-disciplinary team mandated to create an all-encompassing treatment plan with appropriate pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatment interventions. One of the worst cases of pain medicine crisis was witnessed during the opioid crisis of 2017. To overcome the widespread health problem, health practitioners across the country resolved to limit opioid prescription for patients addicted to pain medication.

Complementary And Alternative Therapies

Statistics show the number of people embracing complementary and alternative treatment is growing across the US. Common therapies include mind-body interventions, energy therapies, biological-based systems, and manipulative and body-based methods. Due to this shift, researchers and health sector stakeholders have turned their attention to these therapies and their health benefits to discern the facts. One of the areas of interest is pain relief and management.  The complementary and alternative therapies that have already gained wide acceptance include acupuncture, oriental medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, and Ayurveda.

Rehabilitation Therapies And Chiropractic Care

Rehab therapists and chiropractors are well-positioned to combine conventional medical training models with pain management models, such as self-management and complementary and alternative medicine models. For occupational and physical therapists, additional training in the treatments of chronic pain, joint pain, back pain, and related injuries can complement the care offered to post-orthopedic surgery patients. Occupation therapists and physical therapists also play an essential role in helping patients improve mobility and restore normal body function, which all add to enhance the quality of life.

Integrative Pain Management Intervention

Many health experts see an opportunity to combine the pain medicine model with self-management as an effective strategy for managing pain. Integrative pain management primarily focuses on delivering patient-centered care. It co-opts the widely accepted pain medicine model with treatment practices such as occupational and physical therapy, alternative medicine, and chiropractic care.

Integrative pain management offers a convenient yet affordable treatment alternative for chronic pain sufferers who are not responding to conventional prescription medications. Patients with an addiction problem can also benefit from the highly effective collective treatment strategy. These benefits make integrative pain management ideal for patients with mental, physical, and environmental issues affecting their physical health and wellbeing.