When dealing with a work injury, pain management is a concern for many. For countless workers, the physical injury leaves them with pain, both in the short term and long term.
After a work injury, pain is one of the most common reasons you won’t feel up to returning. Here are 7 ways that pain management doctors can help you!
1. Balance of Healing and Returning to Work
One of the biggest worries of an injured worker is healing and returning to work as soon as possible. Pain management doctors can help with this. By working closely with the primary worker’s compensation doctor, they can help toe this fine line.
While the primary doctor works on the healing and treatment of the underlying injury, the pain management doctor will help to make you more comfortable.
When you are ready to return to work, there is the possibility that you will still be suffering from some long-term pain. The pain management doctor will help ensure that you are able to safely return to work and can alter the treatment plans as needed.
2. Variety of Treatment Options
Pain management doctors can offer you a wide variety of treatment options. Since some injuries result in long-term pain, they can give you a range of options to properly manage it throughout the healing process.
It’s important to remember that not all injuries are treated the same. Your pain management doctor will look at some important factors including your health history, family health history, and any previous addictions before choosing which treatment is the right option for you.
This is where it’s essential to practice transparency with your doctor. If you have struggled with addiction in the past, speak up so your doctor knows which medications to avoid.
Once you’ve been prescribed a treatment regimen, continue to practice open communications.
Be sure to keep a journal of any side effects you may be experiencing so your doctor will know whether or not your dosage needs to be modified.
Oral medications are one of the many treatment options available. Pain management doctors may prescribe either non-narcotic pain relievers, narcotic pain relievers or analgesics. These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxers, prescription pain killers (opioids), or acetaminophen.
The type of oral medication prescribed depends on the amount of pain you are experiencing. The NSAIDs work by blocking the pain near the injury. Meanwhile, they opioids work by blocking the sensation of pain either in the brain, central nervous system, or other areas of the body.
Narcotics and opioids are usually used for acute pain and must be managed by a pain management doctor. They can come with severe side effects such as nausea, drowsiness, depression, addiction, or the probability of overdosing, resulting in death.
Muscle relaxers help to reduce muscle spasms after a work injury. These can sometimes be seen during diagnostic testing or imaging. A muscle spasm can be extremely painful but can be helped through a prescription muscle relaxant.
If the pain is caused by burning or shooting nerve pain, anti-seizure medication may be prescribed.
There are also topical pain relief options available in creams, ointments, and patches. Some of these have lidocaine, which is placed directly on top of the painful area.
Lidocaine is a local anesthetic, which helps to numb the pain. Those topical methods that contain fentanyl will be placed far from the area, but are still effective in pain relief
Interventional techniques, such as injections, are also used by pain management doctors. This can include a superficial injection into the impacted muscle, known as a trigger point injection.
If the pain impacts the back, neck, leg, or arm, an epidural injection may be prescribed. They can also use a facet injection into the joints to promote freer movement.
Trigger point injections are mainly used for muscles that continuously spasm and cannot relax. These are very painful and can inhibit healing. The trigger point injection works by the doctor injecting a local anesthetic into the impacted muscle tissue. This can provide a limited period of relief.
Meanwhile, an epidural steroid injection is commonly used for joint injuries, especially in the back.
This works by the pain management doctor injecting an anti-inflammatory drug into the area near your pain. The drug will help reduce the pain and swelling around the injured area.
A facet joint injection is common following a back or neck injury. Your pain management doctor will inject the medication directly into a small join located along your vertebrae. This is effective in decreasing pain while also increasing your range of motion.
Radiating pain is addressed through a lumbar sympathetic nerve block. Your pain management doctor will use an x-ray to inject the numbing medication near the spine, right where the ganglion is located.
Pain management doctors may also have you undergo specialized treatments to reduce and manage pain. If used in tandem with pain medication, it can possibly reduce the number of pills you need to take.
These treatments can include massage, exercise, electrical stimulation, or physical therapy. They may also decide to try heat or cold therapy, which can be highly effective in treating pain by increasing blood flow or warming the impacted tissue.
Holistic treatments can be used as well. Sometimes yoga, a change in your diet, meditation, acupuncture, or other such treatments can help aid as a complementary therapy. If a neck or back injury is sustained, a pain management doctor may also suggest chiropractic treatment in tandem with a massage.
This care will include manual manipulation of the injured area, while the muscles surrounding the injury are massaged. This works by reducing stress and tension while increasing blood flow.
As you can see, there are a wide variety of treatments available to help reduce or eliminate your pain. Your pain management doctor will help determine the best course of treatment for you. If one does not work, they can help you determine the next steps to get you back to feeling as comfortable as possible.
3. Preventing Addiction to Opioids
When thinking about pain management, many are concerned about addiction to or overdosing on opioids. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), more than 25% of worker’s compensation drug claim costs in the United States are for opioids.
It has also been reported by CorVel Pharmacy Analytics that 90% of all workers’ compensation prescriptions are related to chronic pain.
Pain management doctors can help the injured worker navigate an opioid dosing schedule. They can also work on limiting the number of prescribed opioids to reduce the likelihood of addiction. Pain management doctors will ensure that you are not using opioids for daily management of pain long-term.
Opioids can be dangerous when used in high doses, for an extended period, or paired with other opioids. Pain management doctors can also help to make sure that your prescribed pain medications do not interact with any other prescriptions, such as sleeping pills, anti-depressants, or anti-anxiety pills.
Opioids are sometimes used to eliminate the pain while the underlying injury is left untreated. A pain management doctor can help ensure that your doctor of record receives feedback on your pain to help determine that healing is occurring.
4. Getting You Moving Again
When dealing with pain following a work injury, you may be tempted to not move the area. In certain cases, this can be hindering your healing.
If cleared for movement from your primary doctor, your pain management doctor can help get you moving again. They will work with you to get you physically active again.
By not moving, your muscles and other tissues can contract and harden. This limits the range of motion and increases the amount of pain you experience. The pain management doctor will help teach you about the benefits of regular exercise, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and help you relearn functional movement.
They will work on developing self-management skills so you can be empowered throughout your treatment, both in the clinic and at home.
5. Specialized Knowledge
Pain management doctors, especially those that specialize in post-accident work injury patients, are specialists. They have advanced training and are highly experienced in treating both acute and chronic pain resulting from work-related injuries.
They can perform specialized tests to accurately determine what is causing your pain. Then, you can get the proper treatment needed for your specific condition. If needed, they have the tools and knowledge for specialized procedures, such as a nerve block or injections.
Finally, pain management doctors can help coordinate care with your doctor of record and your physical therapist, along with any other members of your care team.
Continuity of care is critical in making sure your case is handled appropriately. Your worker’ comp pain management doctor can provide feedback about your progress and performance, helping others on your care team to alter their treatment plans, if needed.
6. Tailored Care
With the specialized knowledge and care provided by pain management doctors, you can ensure the treatment will be catered to your specific needs. Whether you crave a holistic approach to your care or you want to receive more hands-on care, a pain management doctor can help!
They will also keep your long term goals in mind while moving through your treatment. By doing so, you can hopefully return to the life and activities you enjoyed pre-injury.
Pain management doctors are well aware that pain isn’t straightforward. They will help tailor your care to your specific injury and establishing long term treatment goals.
After all, not every back injury or limb injury is the same!
The pain management doctor can combine several different types of care to give you relief while you heal. This can include an oral medication combined with a holistic therapy or maybe a trigger point injection with a topical gel. Either way, they can make sure that your specific needs are taken care of.
As you move through treatment, your pain management doctor can continue to evaluate your progress and alter your care based upon your results and ongoing needs.
7. Control Over Your Treatment
Pain management doctors that specialize in workplace injuries can help empower you to take control of your treatment. They are a key piece in your treatment plan that can help you navigate the difficult waters that are Worker’s Compensation.
As you progress through your treatment plan, your pain management doctor will help teach you to self-manage pain. They will help you develop coping abilities to deal with your pain while also learning how it works along with self-management.
By doing this, your confidence in your ability to return to work and live a pain-free life post-injury can increase. By learning to self-manage the pain, the fear of pain and how to handle it can be decreased. The pain won’t be a central figure in your life, once it is appropriately treated by your care team.
Your pain management doctor will also help with your self-esteem when dealing with pain and pain treatment. Many workers, especially those in more blue-collar roles, maybe scared or defensive when talking about pain. They will help you open up about it and feel confident about advocating for yourself.
By doing so, you will be able to more effectively self-manage your pain.
Finding Professional Pain Management Doctors
All things considered, pain management doctors can help increase your psychological well-being in terms of advocating for yourself and learning to manage pain throughout your treatment plan.
Living a pain-free life after a work injury is possible. By working with your care team, including a pain management doctor, you can receive the treatment you need and deserve.
Specialized care will ensure prompt and effective treatment, allowing you to get back to work as quickly and safely as possible.
If you’ve suffered from an injury and are looking for the right care team to help you, call us at (888) 590-4030 for more information on how we can help.