Acute pain, like you feel right after you get cut, signals danger. It’s your body’s way of saying, “Hey, something’s not right here.” Pain is a warning signal, your body’s primary defense system, and after you’ve taken care of the threat, pain dissipates as well. But some pains persist, some linger. Chronic pain is the result of continued nerve action, even long after the initial trauma has been left in the past.
According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, 100 million Americans currently suffer from some form of chronic pain. That’s more than all the Americans with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer put together.
Treating Chronic Pain In New York City
Chronic pain is usually an extremely complex problem, and doctors often use the blanket term “Chronic pain syndrome” (CPS) to describe the long-term discomfort caused by conditions as various as osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia.
CPS can be caused by traumatic accidents that occurred long ago but left structural damage, or neurological disorders that force neurons to fire in the absence of stimulus. The most common nervous system disorder that results in chronic pain is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), which usually affects only one limb. It can also be called Reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS).
Aging, and the weakening of joints and muscles associated with it, is another growing source of chronic pain. The National Institutes of Health reports that 50% of elderly Americans who live alone and up to 85% who live in elder care facilities experience long-term pain.
Workplace accidents are a particularly prevalent cause of chronic pain; In The Face Of Pain, a renowned pain advocacy group, estimates that “186 million work days are lost each year to back pain alone.” The National Centers for Health Statistics ranked the top four most common types of chronic pain as:
- Lower Back Pain – 27%
- Severe Headaches / Migraines – 15%
- Neck Pain – 15%
- Facial Aches – 4%
Can My Chronic Pain Be Cured?
Chronic pain is problematic because it’s usually caused by a series of adverse events, rather than one sudden accident. It’s like Repetitive Strain Injury; over the years, small traumas build on top of one another, leading to serious complications down the road.
But because the history of pain is often unclear, medical professionals have difficulty treating it. It’s rare that the source of a patient’s pain can be precisely pinpointed and effectively treated. Instead, doctors are limited to relieving the symptom, your pain, rather than attacking its underlying cause.
And the symptom of CPS aren’t just limited to pain, although that’s certainly the most obvious. CPS can also cause:
- Poor, disrupted sleep
- Decreased energy
- Drug dependence
Can A Pain Management Clinic Help?
When traditional methods of pain relief have been exhausted, many primary care physicians send their patients to pain management centers or pain clinics.
These medical facilities specialize in the treatment of chronic pains that do not respond to normal methods of treatment. They often use a combination of therapies, including:
- Physical therapy
- Massage therapy
- “Nerve blocks” – specialized prescriptions that block neural receptors to interrupt the perception of pain
If traditional treatment options have failed to relieve your pain, consider contacting a pain management clinic for an evaluation. Here are our picks for the best in New York City:
New York Pain Care
With three locations in Manhattan, and glowing customer reviews, New York Pain Care is definitely the city’s most established pain management clinic. Staffed by board-certified surgeons, and specializing in back pain, New York Pain Care uses non-surgical methods to treat numerous forms of chronic pain effectively.
- New York Pain Care
The Pain Medicine Practice of Weill Cornell Medical College
With the strength and resources of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York’s best medical facility, it’s no surprise that Weill Cornell has remained on the cutting-edge of pain treatment for years. They just added an acupuncture practice to compliment their extremely thorough list of pain management services.
- Weill Cornell Pain Medicine
Will Pain Management Be Covered By Insurance?
That’s a hard question to answer, because it varies from insurance company to insurance company and policy to policy. Complicating the situation, most effective pain management regimens will include the services of multiple practitioners. So your insurance might cover the physical therapy, but not the acupuncture sessions.
It’s best to know your plan and challenge any denials. Denial is usually an insurance company’s first response. But with a little effort, you can prove to your insurer that pain management is the right choice for your health. Consult the pain management doctor you’re considering and decide on the best way to present your condition, and your plans for treatment, in your insurance application.
Funds to cover your medical expenses may also be available by pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. If you’re chronic pain was caused by an accident, and it was fairly recent (within the last 3 years), consult an experienced lawyer to learn more about your legal situation.