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Diagnosing Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is complex and by medical definition persists without a break for 12 weeks or longer. Such pain can be extremely difficult because it can impact your well-being, mood, ability to do your job, and perform normal daily tasks (i.e. getting out of bed and getting dressed).

Chronic Pain vs. Acute Pain

Acute pain typically lasts up to 6 weeks and can happen for any number of reasons. Acute pain can be due to physical damage to your body such as a cut, infection, or musculoskeletal injury (such as an ankle sprain). Sometimes, pain can occur for seemingly no reason at all. In the case of lower-back pain, up to 90% of cases of acute pain are “non-specific” pain. This means the source of pain could not be identified in a medical exam.

Medical care and help

If you’re experiencing either chronic or acute pain, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. Find an Optum provider near you.

Conditions that can cause chronic pain

  • Headache
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Nerve pain
  • Back pain
  • Fibromyalgia pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Sciatic pain
  • Neck pain
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Pain due to reflex sympathetic dystrophy

Treatment

Clinic and office treatments

  • Spinal injections such as fluoroscopically guided epidural steroid injections and facet joint injections for treatment of lower back pain, sciatic pain and neck pain.
  • Radio frequency ablation of spinal nerves is often used to treat chronic back pain, which offers patients many months or even years of pain relief.

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy pain can be treated by blocking sympathetic nerves under fluoroscopic guidance or ultrasound guidance.

  • Morphine pump can be used for a selective group of patients who are being referred for implantation of a spinal catheter for direct delivery of pain medication.
  • Dorsal Column Stimulator for selective pain syndromes caused by damaged nerves, an electrical catheter can be inserted into the spinal canal to reduce painful sensations.
  • Physical Therapy, acupuncture and surgical treatment options are available through a referral within the group.

Treatment through medication

Chronic pain can also be treated by a variety of pain medications, such as anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, opioid analgesic when appropriate, and many other medications.

Medical care and help

If you’re experiencing either chronic or acute pain, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. Find an Optum provider near you.