A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Pain management: What you need to know

Woman rubbing her temples - Headache vs migraine

Chronic pain is defined as a pain lasting longer than 3 months. The pain condition may have been caused by an injury or infection but often is years of “wear and tear.”

Chronic pain is complicated.

Management of chronic medical conditions including chronic pain are not easy and the best results occur when the patient and healthcare providers work together.

Chronic pain is defined as a pain lasting longer than 3 months. The pain condition may have been caused by an injury or infection but often is years of “wear and tear.”

Chronic pain is different from acute pain. With acute pain, the aches occur suddenly and heal relatively quickly. With chronic pain, a healing phase should have occurred long ago and the pain signal is no longer appropriate as a safety signal. Therefore, treatments and medications used for chronic pain differ from acute pain management.

Conditions

Common types of pain treated in our clinics include:

  • Spinal pain neck and low back.
  • Non-spinal joints of shoulders, hips, knees.
  • headaches.
  • post-surgical trauma.

Chronic pain can be a musculoskeletal ailment, such as a well-known bone-on-bone arthritis. This is common in patients with pain that may require joint replacement surgery. However, not all patients with bone-on-bone arthritis or severe spine disease are healthy enough to qualify for surgery — and not all patients that have painful disease qualify for surgery management.

Other patients may struggle with nerve-related pain, which is characterized by constant burning, shooting and radiating pain. This pain can cause significant disruption to sleep. For some patients, the nerve pain can be caused by a pinched nerve. Nerve pain can be extremely painful, sharp and shooting.

Some patients may have injuries that cause long-term nerve pain despite the initial injury being healed.

Musculoskeletal tension headaches and spinal stress are also common.

Treatments

Marshfield Clinic Health System includes several Board-Certified Chronic Pain Management Physicians, Drs Muhammad Ubaidulhaq, Sanjay Sharma, David Junker and Rupinder Singh, who manage chronic pain conditions. Dr. Ubaidulhaq also has experience with atypical head-facial pain management, neurostimulation and ultrasound guided procedures.

At this time, opioids are rarely used for non-cancer chronic pain. However, there are many other treatment therapies that are highly effective. These include:

  • an injection.
  • non-opioid medication.
  • physical therapy, or home exercise program.

Many patients also benefit from skills taught by pain psychologists. It is also very common for there to be focus placed on sleep, mood, and nutrition — since they can increase the chronic pain signal. This is especially important when it comes to nerve pain in patients with diabetes.


When standard therapies of chronic pain fail to provide significant relief, Marshfield Clinic Health System’s Chronic Pain Management team can help provide other management options to the patients. Our team of physicians, nurse practitioners, health pain psychologist and registered nurses work daily with patients with conditions such as spinal arthritis, nerve pain, spinal stenosis, spinal radiculopathies, failed back surgery, headache and many more.

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