Traditional Medical Options for Chronic Pain

Hello everyone Floyd Meyer here and last time we were talking about how big of a problem musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis, back pain, neck pain, etc. really are for our country. But what treatment options do you have?

First I want to cover the traditional medicine route for dealing with these conditions then next time I will outline what an integrative approach to these conditions looks like.

I want to start out by saying that I am in no way against traditional medicine. Modern medicine has provided us unbelievable treatments and cures for many diseases. Things like heart attacks, strokes, and cancer which previously resulted in death nearly 100% of the time are now completely treatable with simple procedures. I am extremely thankful for modern medicine as it has allowed me to grow up with family members who almost certainly would not be here today without it.

Now that being said when it comes to treating these musculoskeletal disorders which are the number 1 cause for disability in the United States at most age groups treatment options are severely lacking.

I will go through an example of a hypothetical patient although this story is all too common in actual practice. Say we have Sally who is a 42-year-old mother. She works as a 3rd-grade teacher, but in her free time, she really enjoys getting outside with her 2 kids playing at the park. Unfortunately, Sally has a nagging knee pain that she has been dealing with for some time now. She doesn’t remember any specific injury but for many years her knee has been bothering her. Eventually, her pain has increased to about a 5/10 and is now limiting her ability to go out and play with her children.

She speaks to her doctor about this and he tells her to take some Tylenol a couple times a day and report back. She listens and amazingly her knee pain subsides. Now it is only a 2/10 when she is taking the medication and she is able to get back to her regular activities.

Unfortunately about 1 year later Sally’s knee pain is no longer responding to her medication despite taking more than her doctor told her to. Her knee pain is now even worse and so she goes back to her doctor. He decides to order an x-ray of her knee at this point which demonstrates some degenerative changes indicative of osteoarthritis.

At this point, he advises Sally that this is a degenerative condition with no real cure. He says that she should probably lose some weight as she is about 20 lbs. overweight, but other than that she should find ways to live with the pain. He tells her if it gets bad enough that he can write her a stronger pain medication like Toradol, or he can refer to an orthopedic surgeon to discuss either a scope to “clean out” the joint or a possible knee replacement.

This story plays out again and again throughout the United States. It happens for people that have back pain, knee pain, neck pain, and the like. Patient deal with the pain until either it becomes unbearable or they become immobile and then they seek out a surgeon to fix their problems. Unfortunately, even surgery is far from a sure thing. Many surgeries do not result in decreased pain or increased mobility.

Obviously, there is a place for surgery when it comes to trauma, fracture, full thickness tear, and the like. But for these degenerative conditions, this does not need to be the full story.

Luckily there are many other treatment options for patients that give hope and can restore function all without the need for drugs or surgery. So stay tuned because next time we will be talking about an integrative approach to musculoskeletal dysfunction and pain.

So again this is Floyd Meyer signing off.

 

Author
Floyd Meyer PA-C, MMS, MPH Floyd Meyer is a Physician Assistant with Masters degrees in Medical Science and Public Health, and bachelors in biochemistry and molecular biology. He is dedicated to providing scientifically proven strategies to allow you to Live Better, Live Longer, and Do More!

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