A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Pain management: 3 things you need to know

Man and doctor discussing pain management options.

Living with chronic pain is something around 11% of adults experience. It effects many aspects of your life.

Living and dealing with chronic pain is something an estimated 11% of adults experience, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Chronic pain is long-lasting pain – 12 weeks or more supervisors comment lifts – typically caused by an initial injury or infection. The exact causes of chronic pain vary, but sometimes there isn’t a clear cause. This differs from acute pain, which usually comes on suddenly and makes you aware of a potential injury like a sprained ankle.

The most common types of pain are Low back pain, neck pain, joint pain, headaches, post-surgical/trauma pain.

What frustrates people most when dealing with nagging chronic pain is that it doesn’t “magically go away” even with surgery or physical therapy. Chronic pain effects many aspects of your life like your sleep or even your ability to work.

Diet can affect chronic pain

Kelly Zopfi, pain management nurse practitioner at Marshfield Clinic Health System, says there are natural ways to dull the pain that can improve other aspects in a patient’s life. One area in particular Zopfi stresses is a patient’s diet.

“If you eat junk, you’re going to feel like junk,” she said. “Our stomach is actually a pivotal factor in our health. I can explore various ways to tone down or dull pain intensity and can explain and educate my patients to what is realistically possible.”

Dr. Sanjay Sharma, pain management physician at Marshfield Clinic Health System, added that roughly half of adults today are considered obese and are going beyond what they can physically do, leading to more pain and more inactivity.

“There is a lot of pain out there,” Dr. Sharma said. “We are going to help you manage and live with pain. Surgery is really a last resort or to preserve function. There are many tried and true ways to improve your pain.”

See a pain psychologist

Zopfi says pain is not just physical as bone and joints. When pain continues for months, sadness and depression frequently occur. Multi-disciplinary management of this biopsychosocial condition of moderate-severe chronic pain is often required. If we focus only on the physical, we are unlikely to effectively manage the patient’s expectations for reasonable functional improvement, Zopfi said. Many patient benefit from working with a Pain Health Psychologist to learn independent skills to manage chronic pain condition.

Avoid opioids in treatment of pain

Zopfi says opioids are a medication of last resort and it is uncommon for her to prescribe them.

With opioid use exploding in recent years, there has been widespread effort to ease pain without, or greatly reducing, the use of opioid medicine.

“Although we occasionally prescribe opioids for chronic pain, today we now know, using opioid medications effectively stop our body’s natural production of opioids,” said Zopfi. “When our body stops producing pain relievers, we become physically and occasionally dependent on the prescription. Therefore, all healthcare providers are reevaluating opioid prescription management of all patients and rarely using opioids long term.”

If you have concerns about chronic pain, talk with your doctor or set an appointment to see a Marshfield Clinic provider.

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