Pain Management in the Healthcare Industry

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The Centers for Disease Control reports that annually, personal injuries and accidents result in over $670 billion in medical and work loss expenses. However, this figure fails to encompass the psychological toll of injuries, chronic pain, and the broader impact on families nationwide. 

The right pain management treatment should offer cutting-edge medical treatments to aid patients in their recovery from personal injuries. The ideal approach to pain management addresses all facets of the injury and patient experience, ensuring the provision of top-tier medical care and genuine compassion for the well-being of each patient. With guidance from the double board-certified co-founder of Midwest Anesthesia and Pain Specialists (MAPS), Thomas Pontinen, MD, LCP-C, we’re sharing some of the primary considerations and practices for pain management within the healthcare industry. 

Common Types of Personal Injuries:

  • Car Accidents
  • Slip and Falls
  • Sports Accidents
  • Workplace Accidents
  • Traumatic Accidents
  • Motorcycle Accidents

Pain Management Options

When it comes to personal injuries, a variety of pain management options can be used depending on each case. Some therapies can be used in conjunction with others for optimal results in the healing process. Non-drug approaches are increasingly recognized as important components of pain management. These may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic care, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), and relaxation techniques. These therapies can help improve function, reduce pain intensity, and enhance overall well-being.

Interventional Pain Medicine 

Traditional invasive surgeries are increasingly becoming outdated. In today’s world of medicine, cutting-edge, minimally-invasive pain treatments are the best option, offering a range of treatments and therapies for various injuries and conditions to best meet the needs of your patients.  In certain cases, interventional procedures such as nerve blocks, epidural steroid injections, joint injections, radiofrequency ablation, and spinal cord stimulation may be recommended to alleviate pain, especially when conservative treatments are ineffective.

Injection-Based Therapy

A significant number of patients experience favorable outcomes with injection-based treatments, providing them with rapid pain relief without the need for surgery. Common injection-based therapies used in pain management include:

  • Epidural Steroid Injections (ESIs): These injections deliver corticosteroids directly into the epidural space of the spine to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain caused by conditions such as herniated discs or spinal stenosis.
  • Facet Joint Injections: Facet joints are small joints located between each vertebra in the spine. Injections into these joints can help diagnose and treat pain arising from facet joint syndrome, arthritis, or injury.
  • Trigger Point Injections (TPIs): TPIs involve injecting a local anesthetic and sometimes a corticosteroid into trigger points—areas of muscle that are painful and sensitive to touch. This helps relieve muscle pain and spasms.
  • Peripheral Nerve Blocks: These injections target specific nerves outside of the spinal cord to block pain signals. They can be used to treat conditions such as sciatica, peripheral neuropathy, or complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
  • Joint Injections: Injections directly into joints affected by arthritis or injury can provide pain relief and reduce inflammation. Commonly injected joints include the knee, hip, shoulder, and sacroiliac joint.
  • Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA): RFA involves using heat generated by radio waves to disrupt nerve function in targeted areas, providing long-lasting pain relief for conditions like facet joint pain or chronic low back pain.
  • Corticosteroid Injections: These injections deliver corticosteroid medications directly into inflamed joints, tendons, or bursae to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain associated with conditions such as arthritis or tendonitis.
  • Sacroiliac Joint Injections: Injections into the sacroiliac joint, located at the bottom of the spine, can help diagnose and treat pain arising from sacroiliac joint dysfunction or inflammation.

Responsible Medication Management

Medications play a crucial role in managing pain. These may include over-the-counter analgesics (such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen) for mild to moderate pain, as well as prescription opioids, NSAIDs, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and muscle relaxants for more severe or chronic pain. However, prescribing opioids requires careful consideration due to the risk of dependency and overdose. 

Healthcare organizations and regulatory bodies should develop clinical practice guidelines and policies to standardize and optimize pain management practices. These guidelines will aim to promote safe and effective pain management while minimizing the risks associated with opioid use and ensuring access to appropriate care for patients living with pain.

Physical Therapy

Certain patients may experience improvement through a personalized treatment regimen, which could encompass stretching, strengthening exercises, core work, or a combination of other therapeutic interventions.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy, particularly when integrated with complementary treatments, serves as an effective avenue for alleviating muscle pain, tension, and stress stemming from personal or traumatic injuries.

Chiropractic Care

This approach aids in rehabilitating and improving joint mobility through manipulation and exercise. Additionally, you may suggest alternative modalities such as acupuncture, meditation, or therapy to address personal injuries for a comprehensive healing journey.

Other Considerations

In addition to therapeutic care and medicine to aid in the healing process, the path to healing is a long road. It’s important to be aware of the laws, insurance, and self-management of pain are all part of the process and can weigh heavily on the patient mentally and financially as well. As a healthcare provider, it’s vital to aid patients through their journey when it comes to the paperwork and aftercare. Here are some other considerations that should be included in the pain management process for those being treated with personal injuries in healthcare facilities.

Law Firms and Insurance Support

While prioritizing pain management and treatment of injuries, one thing that is often a bigger pain to deal with is insurance and lawsuits. A comprehensive pain management process will include guiding the patient through the entire process regarding insurance and personal injury laws, giving them one less thing to worry about so they can focus on healing.  

Patient Education and Self-Management

 Empowering patients with knowledge about their condition and self-management techniques is essential for long-term pain management. Education about pain mechanisms, treatment options, lifestyle modifications, and coping strategies can help patients take an active role in managing their pain and improving their quality of life.