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Chronic Pain Syndrome: Tryin’ To Feel Better

Chronic Pain Syndrome is a baffling disorder that causes so much misery for so many. Yesterday, we talked about what it looks like. Today, let’s work on relief.

Here’s a link to yesterday’s piece.

Assessment / Diagnosis

Crucial to the success of any treatment regimen is making sure the correct disorder(s) is being treated. Now, that may sound like a no-brainer; but you’d be amazed at the number of care professionals who either haven’t heard, or blow-off, that morsel of reality.

The very best way to diagnose what may be chronic pain syndrome (CPS) begins with a comprehensive assessment. By the way, finding a chronic pain or CPS treatment center is a great idea. I’m sure your primary care physician can provide a referral. Or you can do an Internet search using the name of your city or zip code.

Working toward a CPS diagnosis will include a thorough review – past and present – of  indicated musculoskeletal, reproductive, gastrointestinal, urologic, and neurologic systems. An emotional and mental health assessment, conducted by a qualified professional, is essential.

In terms of what’s going on physically in the immediate, these questions will likely be asked. Where is the pain? What brings it on or makes it worse? What provides relief? Is the pain throbbing, piercing, dull/aching, etc.? Does the pain spread or radiate? How intense is the pain?

If indicated, lab and imaging tests will be ordered.

Treatment

Okay, so the results are back and your physician has assigned a diagnosis of CPS. And now it’s on to treatment. It’s important to understand that the goals of CPS treatment are a return to normal functioning, enhanced quality of life, minimization of medications, and relapse prevention.

Here’s a long list of treatment options you may come upon. I’ll leave it to you to conduct your own research and chat with your physician…

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Recreational therapy
  • Medical therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Applications of heat and cold
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Magnetic therapy
  • Psychophysiologic therapy
  • Vocational therapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Stress management
  • Acupuncture
  • Medication

Meds

The philosophical foundation of using meds for CPS is to stop, or reduce, the severity of pain over the long haul and within the context of flare-ups. Every effort is made to avoid opioids – hydrocodone, Vicodin, oxycodone, etc. – and barbiturates – phenobarbital, Fioricet, etc.

Here are some common meds for the treatment of CPS…

  • Over-the-counter analgesics
  • Muscle relaxants – tizanidine (Zanaflex, Sirdalud)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) – amitriptyline (Elavil), nortriptyline (Pamelor)
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft)

So that’s a wrap on our two-part series. Again, CPS is baffling and miserable business. And chiur is all about bringing such issues to the fore. As always, knowledge is power.