Chronic pain is a phrase often heard in medical practices, but what does it actually refer to? Aaron Lloyd, MD, is a pain specialist at Methodist Hospital for Surgery (MHFS) and recently shared some of his expertise and insight on this topic.
According to Dr. Lloyd, the term chronic pain describes a large and varied group of conditions, which makes it impossible to offer a single treatment solution. The underlying causes of pain are also varied, but often include one of the following:
- Ongoing pain following an injury
- Pain associated with an ongoing medical disease that has been medically treated but cannot be completely eliminated (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis)
- Pain associated with a medical disease that causes irreversible injury and painful symptoms (e.g. diabetic neuropathy)
Dr. Lloyd believes the term “chronic pain” has become too commonplace among patients today. While some pain can be attributed to the sources listed above, there are also instances in which the patient simply needs to take greater responsibility for their health, wellness and management of any disease present. Overall, according to Dr. Lloyd, there also needs to be a decreased expectation of quick fixes and pills that claim to solve all pain.
When treating those with chronic pain, Dr. Lloyd finds it helpful to ask his patient to define what outcome(s) they expect in specific, concrete terms. For example, rather than leave it at, “I just want to be pain free” or “I just want to go back to normal,” Dr. Lloyd guides patients toward defining acceptable alternatives in terms of functionality. An example of this would be for a patient to say, “I want to be able to take care of my grandchildren” or “I want to be able to go for a 30-minute walk without sitting down.” These specific goals give Dr. Lloyd and his colleagues a measuring stick to guide their medical care.
While all pain is different, common treatment options for chronic pain include physical therapy, cognitive training, chiropractic care, medication management and surgical referrals. Dr. Lloyd warns against any type of pain treatment that promises a quick fix or any one therapy that claims to be the most successful for treating chronic pain.
In Dr. Lloyd’s opinion, what sets MHFS apart in the area of pain management is that the facility has unprecedented access to colleagues and state-of-the-art equipment, allowing pain management physicians to be an integral part in the MHFS competitive advantage in providing unprecedented patient care. Find out how his team of specialists can assist you by contacting our business office.