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Pain Management and the Consequences of Unrelieved Pain

The consequences of chronic pain are far-reaching and go beyond physical sensations of ongoing discomfort. Research shows that unrelieved pain negatively impacts patients in every way – socially, physically and financially.

According to a review by researchers from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience in 2013, chronic pain can alter brain circuitry and lead to a faster loss of gray matter, increase sensitivity to pain signals, reduce ability of the brain to release its own painkillers and cause emotional changes (such as anxiety disorders and depression) and cognitive deficits. Chronic pain can lead to medical problems that can result in immobility, malnutrition and an increased risk of falling.

Fortunately, research also shows us that when effectively treated, brain effects related to chronic pain may be reversible. Therapists can help manage symptoms of chronic pain through many approaches, including acupressure, electromodalities, manual therapy techniques, joint range of motion and mobility and strengthening exercises. The goals of pain management intend to address each aspect of chronic pain.

Goals of Pain Management Rehab:
• Determine the source and symptoms of pain
• Effectively manage the symptoms and complications of acute and chronic pain
• Provide clear and easy-to-understand patient instruction regarding non-pharmacological management strategies to address acute and chronic pain conditions
• Teach guided imagery and relaxation techniques to manage pain, stress and anxiety and aid in relaxation and decreased muscle tension
• Restore functional independence in activities of daily living and functional mobility
• Improve quality of life, socialization and quality of sleep

Persistent pain is a debilitating presence that affects a patient’s ability to perform normal activities of daily living.  

¡ Ali R. Mansour Marwan N. Baliki Lejian Huang Souraya Torbey Kristi M. Herrmann Thomas J.
Schnitzer A. Vania Apkarian Brain white matter structural properties predict transition to chronic pain.
¡¡ Bushnell MC, eko M, Low LA. Cognitive and emotional control of pain and its disruption in chronic
pain. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. May 30, 2013. Epub ahead of print.

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