What is Chronic Pain?
Though everyone experiences pain, chronic pain is a debilitating condition where an individual feels pain for an elongated period of time. Chronic pain can often present without an apparent cause. In general, someone is diagnosed with chronic pain after having discomfort that lasts for more than 3 months.
In some cases, chronic pain stems from an acute injury that damages the nerves in the area, resulting in pain that extends well beyond the typical healing period. For others, the source of pain is not easily located, resulting in an extended period of symptomatic treatment as doctors search for the cause.
Conditions like arthritis, cancer, fibromyalgia, and migraines may be more difficult to diagnose as a cause of chronic pain without testing.
Once someone is diagnosed with chronic pain, doctors will likely run a series of tests to try and determine whether or not it is the result of an injury, a malfunction of the nervous system, or chronic pain with a more elusive and ambiguous origin.
Regardless of the cause, chronic pain should be taken seriously until a patient receives the care and relief they deserve.
Getting a Diagnosis for Chronic Pain
Once someone has been injured, or starts feeling new pain that will not alleviate, they should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Though modern medicine gives us extraordinary measures against great pain, it may take a few months of testing and analysis until a diagnosis is reached. Chronic pain is a subjective experience that is difficult for patients to communicate and for doctors to truly understand.
Specialists commonly administer physical and neurological exams to try and collect data that will allow a cause to be isolated and a diagnosis offered. Bloodwork, stress-tests, and other examinations may also be requested to try and get a diagnosis for chronic pain.
If extensive physical and neurological testing has not led to an explanation for the patient’s chronic pain, doctors may request psychological testing.
Once all treatment options have been explored, patients may become a good candidate for treatments like TMS.
Treatments for Chronic Pain
Considering the many possible causes of chronic pain, your medical team may elect to have you try a wide variety of treatments. Some common treatments of chronic pain include physical therapy, massage, and medications aimed at controlling pain or reducing inflammation in the body.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for Chronic Pain
When other treatment options have failed, patients may become candidates for the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation for their chronic pain.
While TMS is currently approved for use in cases of severe depression and suicidal ideation, studies have also shown that transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is an effective treatment for patients living with chronic pain. However, TMS for chronic pain is considered “off-label,” and the FDA has not approved TMS to treat chronic pain. Nonetheless, there is a strong base of ongoing clinical research that may lead to FDA approval in the future.
As a result of recent studies completed at Stanford University, patients experiencing chronic pain were able to get relief from their symptoms following a series of TMS sessions. These results were also found in patients experiencing fibromyalgia, a painful musculoskeletal condition characterized by pain and fatigue without obvious cause.
Ketamine Infusions for Chronic Pain
Ketamine has been shown to help patients control their chronic pain when it is administered in small and well-monitored IV doses. This treatment can act as a sedative to allow patients to get relief from their chronic pain without risking dependence on or addiction to painkillers. Like TMS, Ketamine infusions are also not yet FDA approved for chronic pain and remain to be an “off-label” treatment at this time.
To schedule your consultation, or for more information about options for chronic pain treatment, please contact us.