Defeating The Chronicity of Pain
The patient who suffers from such chronic pain diagnosis as , Multiple Sclerosis pain, RSD, Fibromyalgia, Neuropathy, Sciatica, Chronic low back pain and degenerative disc disease to name a few is not experiencing typical cause and effect pain symptoms. These patients have had to learn to live with pain, generally becoming worse over time. Some of the specific pain etiologies of these diagnoses begin as less difficult, less painful beginning points and over time, due to the pain, these patients develop what are called “guarding” or “shielding” behaviors in order to cope with the condition.
One of the easiest examples is the patient who has been diagnosed with chronic low back pain, CLBP, and due to the pain the patient limits their activities, favors one side of the other due to the pain, and becomes sedentary and so on. The behavior changes due to the pain impulse result in physical changes such as loss of elasticity in muscles due to inactivity, poor circulation, stress on certain muscle groups by shifting the weight of movement to a non-painful area, muscle spasms which add another level, and loss of muscle tone. Each time the patient changes their physical patterns it is common to now introduce another level of pain. It is common to see the CLBP patient develop a secondary pain referred to as sciatica. The pain is due to shielding and guarding by the patient to lessen the severity of the pain from the CLBP.
When a patient begins using interferential therapy the main purpose is not total elimination of all pain levels but to begin to reduce the multi levels of pain one by one. As an example the Neuropathy patient may have painful areas in more than one part of the body. There generally is a primary area which was the precursor to the diagnosis of the original problem, but through shielding and guarding other areas of his/her body develop pain.
The interferential therapy is intended to:
· Reduce the severity of the pain impulses position by position,
· If inflamed reduce some of the inflammation
· Stop the progression of muscle tightness and in some situations cramping
· Relax the muscles
· Increase blood flow to the area for greater metabolic processes
· Allow limited range of motion/stretching exercises to increase elasticity of the tissues and cells
Once the treatments begin it’s not an all or nothing approach and it’s rarely solely one treatment method. The patient may experience muscle cramping and the interferential therapy wards off the cramps however the post treatment may include using some topical analgesic or sports rub to maintain the therapeutic effects. In almost all situations it is necessary to begin some form of stretching exercise to increase the tissue elasticity, and range of motion of any body part affected. The stretching which is beneficial, however also painful, can be overcome using interferential to lessen the pain so greater range can be reached quicker. It’s a multi function integration of treatment methods to achieve elimination of pain levels.
The chronic pain patient simply wants restoration of most functional ability and if he/she can eliminate pain levels on a weekly basis then progress is being made.
For many chronic pain patients the principal difficulties may be muscle related, ie, muscle pain due to cramping, tightness, spasms. The patient dreads the recurrence of the muscle pain and will work to eliminate that level. By using interferential as a precursor to stop the progression of the tightness the cycle can be stopped, however besides stretching to avoid future occurrences the patient may use an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen, or hot moist heat, or arnica skin pain patches. Levels of pain require levels of treatment options resulting in elimination of most pain, step by step, level by level.
The chronic pain patient should always be remembered and treated with full knowledge that any chronic pain diagnosis is the result of failure to successfully treat the pain for greater than 6 months. The methods for treating acute pain have failed and new levels of pain stimulus emerge which requires treatment with goals of pain level elimination, one by one.
Chronic pain requires integration of treatment modalities and methods to achieve beneficial results. For the chronic pain patient there is no “magic bullet”, only the will to get better and education on methods, options and clearly defined goals to achieve that success.