Chronic pain is a term we often hear, but what does it really mean? Simply put, it’s pain that lasts longer than expected, often for months or even years. It’s not just a prolonged headache or the ache from a twisted ankle. Chronic pain can come from many sources, like arthritis or back problems, and it can really affect someone’s life, making everyday tasks difficult.
Let’s discuss how chronic pain is managed in the world of internal medicine.
1. Multidisciplinary Assessment
Chronic pain is often a symptom of underlying issues that can be physical, psychological, or even social. Internists typically start with a thorough assessment, considering all potential contributing factors.
This multidisciplinary approach may involve consultations with specialists such as:
This ensures a holistic understanding of the patient’s condition.
2. Personalized Medication Management
While medication is a common aspect of pain management, internists focus on personalized medication strategies. This includes:
- Selecting the right type of medication based on the pain’s nature and source
- Adjusting dosages
- Closely monitoring for side effects
The goal is to achieve maximum pain relief with minimal side effects.
3. Physical Rehabilitation and Therapy
Physical therapy plays a crucial role in managing chronic pain.
Internists often collaborate with physical therapists to develop customized exercise programs that help strengthen the body, improve flexibility, and reduce pain.
Such programs are particularly beneficial for conditions like chronic back pain or arthritis.
4. Lifestyle Modification and Behavioral Therapy
Lifestyle changes can significantly impact chronic pain management. Internists advise on diet modifications, stress reduction techniques, and sleep hygiene to help mitigate pain.
Behavioral therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are also recommended to help patients cope with the emotional and psychological aspects of living with chronic pain.
5. Use of Non-Traditional Therapies
Recognizing the limitations of conventional medicine, many internists are now incorporating non-traditional therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, and meditation into their treatment plans.
These therapies can complement traditional treatments and offer additional pain relief and stress reduction.
6. Patient Education and Self-Management
Empowering patients is a key aspect of chronic pain management in internal medicine. Internists spend time educating patients about their:
- Treatment options
- Self-management strategies
This patient-centered approach encourages active participation in their own care, leading to better outcomes.
7. Regular Follow-ups and Adjustments
Chronic pain management is an ongoing process. Regular follow-ups allow internists to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment plan and make necessary adjustments.
This continual evaluation ensures the management strategy evolves with the patient’s changing needs.
Visiting an internal medicine doctor is advisable when dealing with persistent, interfering, or complex chronic pain. Their comprehensive approach addresses the immediate pain and looks at the overall health picture, ensuring a thorough and coordinated treatment plan.
When to See an Internal Medicine Doctor for Chronic Pain
It’s important to know when to consult an internal medicine doctor for chronic pain management. Here are key situations when their expertise is particularly valuable:
- Long-Lasting Pain: If your pain persists longer than the usual healing time, typically more than three to six months, it’s time to see a specialist.
- Impact on Daily Life: Seek help if pain disrupts your daily activities like work, sleep, or exercise.
- Over-the-counter Medication Ineffectiveness: If regular pain relievers aren’t working, an internal medicine doctor can offer more effective solutions.
- Unknown Pain Source: If the cause of your pain is unclear, these doctors are skilled in diagnosing complex cases.
- Additional Symptoms: If your chronic pain comes with other symptoms like fatigue or weight loss, a doctor can assess for underlying conditions.
- Multiple Health Issues: People with several health conditions may experience interconnected pain, which internal medicine doctors are adept at managing.
- Holistic Approach Preference: For those seeking a comprehensive treatment plan that includes lifestyle changes and non-medication therapies, an internal medicine doctor can guide you.
- Need for Specialist Referral: These doctors can refer you to the right specialists for specific pain treatments when necessary.
In essence, an internal medicine doctor is your go-to for persistent, complex, or disruptive chronic pain, offering a thorough approach to your overall health and well-being.
Internal Medicine Doctors in Tucson, AZ
If you are looking for an internalist who also provides VIP concierge primary care services, look no further than board-certified internal medicine and clinical lipidologist Dr. Robert E. Lending. In addition to providing general health and wellness exams, screenings, and immunizations, Dr. Lending has spent his entire professional career serving the healthcare needs of adults in the Tucson, Arizona, area.
To schedule a consultation or learn more about our membership-based Concierge Internal Medicine practice, call the medical office of Dr. Robert E. Lending at (520) 795-4291 today or use our convenient online appointment request form.