Beyond Grin and Bear It: Managing Chronic Pain

Pain is a signal-our body's way of telling us there's something wrong. But chronic pain can have a profound impact on your quality of life.

Fortunately, specialists at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital can provide relief. Experts in pain medicine offer the latest in pain management, tracing pain's root cause and providing treatments that allow you to get back to enjoying life. "Pain medicine is a newer specialty, so a lot of people may not know about it," says Maneesh Sharma, MD, board-certified and director of the pain management program at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital. "If pain is affecting your everyday abilities, your personal life or your ability to work, it is definitely time to seek help from a specialist."

Pain Primer

There are two kinds of pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain is usually the result of inflammation from a disease process, surgery or injury. It is often traceable to a specific cause and doesn't last long.

Chronic pain, however, lasts for a longer period of time-at least 12 weeks. It also can result from an injury, disease or surgery that lasts beyond the typical healing time period. Common causes of chronic pain include arthritis, diabetes, cancer, headaches, back injuries, nerve injuries, infections (such as shingles) and surgeries.

Chronic pain impacts a person's regular activities. "It can lead to sleeplessness, anxiety and even depression," Dr. Sharma says.

Talking About Pain

Different injuries and conditions cause different sensations. "Some people might feel a burning, others might feel a radiating pain, while others experience stiffness and tightness," Dr. Sharma explains.

Communicating with your doctor is the first step to treating pain. At MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, pain medicine specialists will take a detailed patient history and help you to accurately describe your pain. "If you're explaining your pain, it's best to begin by telling us the story of how it started: when it started, where it occurs, what makes it better or worse and other qualities, such as whether it's constant or if it's occasional," he says.

Sophisticated Solutions

To determine the best treatment for your pain, MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital doctors will perform a thorough physical exam and may order x-rays, an MRI, a CT scan or tests for nerve damage.

Depending on the diagnosis, the source of pain and its severity, MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital pain specialists can provide a variety of treatments. Some of them include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Medications
  • Steroid injections
  • Nerve blocks, which involve using different medications directly along a nerve
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Spinal cord stimulation, in which tiny electrical pulses are used to block pain in different areas of the body.

"Because pain can be very complex, the best treatment may require different physicians and combinations of different therapies," he explains. "At MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, neurologists, rehabilitation specialists, anesthesiologists, surgeons and physical therapists all work together to make sure we find the best solution to help relieve your pain."

Call Us Today

To find a pain management specialist: