What To Do When the Pain Won't Go Away...

I know all about pain.  With each of my last 3 children, I have experienced sharp, and seemingly unmanageable pain in my hand and finger joints.  It had prevented me from doing things I love (like playing the piano) and kept me in constant fear of aggravation from doing little tasks (like opening a ketchup bottle.)  Many of the doctors I went to said the same thing: It would go away.  It wasn't that bad.  There was nothing they could do.  These are all answers you DON'T want to hear when your life is changed by something so simple as a sore ring finger.

I was blessed to be on a webinar/conference call with a few blogger friends to hear from a doctor about pain.  I was really expecting it to be a pitch on the latest studies, meds, or trends in treating pain, and I didn't think I'd get anything out of it.  What I was surprised to receive, however, was confirmation from my peers that pain is a very disruptive event AND there may be hope for undiagnosed and ineffectively treated pain by simply seeking a different doctor.

Dr. Jennifer Caudle spoke on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association, an organization I didnt' really know much about.  While I learned a lot on the call, here are a few of my favorite questions and answers from our time:
Q: I'm in chronic pain, and my MD has not been able to help. I've been thinking about visiting a DO. Can you tell me how a DO approaches chronic pain differently from an MD to treat it more effectively? Will visiting a DO help me when an MD hasn't been able to? 
A: There are two types of licensed physicians – MDs (medical doctors) and DOs (doctors of osteopathic medicine). We both do four years of medical school, attend residency programs and have to take board certification tests. Our training is similar, but DOs believe in a comprehensive approach to the patient. We look at the entire patient to make a diagnosis and treatment, and we are also trained to use our 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. 
Q: What do you do about the pressure to use medications?
A: We have lots of ways to deal with chronic pain. There are medications for nerve issues, pain, etc. But there are other options – aqua therapy, physical therapy, ultrasound, aerobic exercises. Remember that with chronic pain, often times a multi-factorial approach is great. Having a dialogue with your doctor is important. 
Q: Going to a doctor is expensive. Multiple visits means it’s going to cost more. How can I treat my pain without spending so much money? 
A: One of the things I find it’s important to do as a doctor – ask patients if they’re able to afford their medications and visits. Broach topic of what you’re able to do. If you have financial restrictions, talk with your doctor so you can come up with a plan that works. 
In addition to hearing about pain, it's treatment, and how a DO can create a truly personalized pain management plan, I was shocked to hear these holiday-related statistics:

50% of Americans put talking to a physician about pain at the bottom of their holiday to-do list, preferring some other holiday chores instead, including:
  • Taking down holiday decorations by themselves(55%) 
  • Shoveling snow on their own for an hour (44%) 
  • Waiting in line to return or exchange gifts on the day after Christmas (33%)
That just seems CRAZY to me! 

If you are suffering from pain, even if it's new pain, you may benefit from the guidance of a doctor of osteopathic medicine.  76 millions American deal with pain every day, and the cold and dangerous conditions of winter can create even more discomfort for these same people.  

If you would like to learn more, I encourage you to visit osteopathic.org/pain to take the “Living with Pain?” quiz and download a pain checklist to discuss with your physician.

*This was part of a sponsored campaign with the The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.