What Does a Patient Do When Standard Pain Treatments Fail?

Imagine living with chronic pain uncomfortable enough to disrupt your daily life. Imagine working with your GP or primary care physician for months yet still finding no relief. When every standard pain treatment fails, what do you do? It’s a problem plenty of people deal with.

The latest estimates from the CDC suggest that 20% of the U.S. population has experienced chronic pain at least once in their lifetimes. Many of those patients are not fortunate enough to see their pain eventually come to an end. They live with it day in and day out. Despite the best efforts of their GPs, nothing seems to work. What can they do?

Option #1: See a Pain Management Specialist

The first option is to make an appointment to see a pain management specialist. These are doctors whose education and training have focused almost entirely on understanding pain and how to manage it properly. Their training includes things that GPs and primary care doctors never learn.

This is not a slight on GPs or primary care doctors. Medicine is highly specialized, and both types of doctors specialize in internal medicine. They cannot be expected to have an in-depth understanding of pain management without proper training.

A Different Treatment Approach

According to the pain specialists at Texas-based Lone Star Pain Medicine, pain management doctors take a different approach to treatment. They don’t immediately pull out the prescription pad or recommend surgery. They are generally willing to look at other options including injection therapies and spinal cord stimulation. In essence, pain management doctors offer treatments you’ll never find in any primary care or GP’s office.

Option #2: Try Alternative Strategies

A second option is to try alternative strategies. One example is plant-based medicine. There are certain types of medical professionals who believe that a variety of plants can be utilized to manage pain better than prescription medications. They promote plant-based medicine as a more natural way to address pain.

Another example is acupuncture. Although acupuncture might be new to American patients who try it for the first time, it is actually an ancient practice Eastern cultures have understood for centuries. Acupuncture is still considered a standard pain management treatment in more than a few Asian countries.

The one downside to alternative strategies is a lack of insurance coverage. Many alternatives are not covered by American insurance carriers. And even when they are, getting a referral from a GP or primary care physician isn’t the easiest task in the world.

Option #3: Give Up and Live With It

The third and final option is the least desirable: giving up and living with it. I say it is the least desirable because I personally know people who’ve done it. One friend who suffers from chronic back pain. She contacted me not too long ago, distressed that she has become almost entirely housebound because moving is too painful. She was ready to give up.

Fortunately, I was able to talk her through her distress and convince her that life is still worth living. I was able to give her some tips that helped her get out of the house and start living again. The opposite side of the coin is that far too many chronic pain patients never get that kind of support. They truly do give up.

Standard pain treatments do not always deliver. And when they don’t, patients are often left wondering what to do. If you find yourself in such a position, at least consider seeing a pain specialist or looking at alternative treatments. After all, you really have nothing to lose.

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