More than 76 million Americans live with pain every day and one of those 76 million people is my husband. He has had chronic back pain for years. While he has sought treatment several times over the years, nothing has been completely effective in treating his pain completely. Eventually it has simply become something he just lives with but doesn’t have too. Chronic pain is pain experienced for more than three months and impacts more Americans than cancer, diabetes and heart disease COMBINED. It’s one of the more difficult diagnosis to treat. It can come from medical conditions like arthritis, muscle aches and pains, or injury or trauma. It can be even be a combination of both.
I had a chance to participate in a briefing with Dr. Jennifer Caudle and the American Osteopathic Association and I’m challenging my husband to once again address his chronic pain. Did you know there are two types of licensed physicians – MDs (medical doctors) and DOs (doctors of osteopathic medicine). They both do four years of medical school, attend residency programs and have to take board certification tests. The training is similar, but DOs believe in a comprehensive approach to the patient. They look at the entire patient to make a diagnosis and treatment, and are also trained to use their hands. A DO could be a great option if your MD hasn’t been effective. You want to look for a DO who does manipulation (hands-on treatment) in their office. It’s an added benefit of being treated right when you go to the office. They may even work with a physical therapist for a more comprehensive treatment plan. My husband may need to try a multi-factorial approach including pain medication, aqua therapy, physical therapy, ultrasound and aerobic exercises.
Why are we talking about Chronic Pain now with the holidays right around the corner you ask? Freezing temperatures, slips and falls on icy ground, and shoveling snow are top triggers for winter aches and pains, especially common among older adults. It’s the busiest time of year and treating chronic pain falls to the bottom of the list after taking down holiday decorations, shoveling snow, waiting in line to return or exchange gifts on the day after Christmas. All things that exacerbate chronic pain.
When pain is not properly managed, it’s difficult to live productively – just one of the reasons why addressing chronic pain is so important. Make treating your chronic pain a priority this holiday season, before it gets worse. Visit osteopathic.org/pain to take our “Living with Pain?” quiz and download a pain checklist to discuss with your physician. The best gift this season? Don’t Let Pain Get in the Way of Your Holiday!