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Most people experiencing pain have one goal: to make it stop. As with all goal setting, it helps to break this goal down into smaller pieces. Finding the root cause and using specific treatments to promote healing are the initial steps to relieving pain. There may be steps beyond these to strengthen a weak area and prevent reinjury. Unfortunately, some clinicians skip this goal breakdown. Instead of aiming to heal the root cause of the pain, they use shortcuts like prescription pain meds to “make it go away.”

This approach is ultimately ineffective and can cause additional harm to the patient. The medical community has slowly come to understand this, and the American Medical Association now recommends conservative treatments for musculoskeletal pain before surgery or medication are considered. In most cases, conservative treatments are effective enough that the patient doesn’t need more invasive procedures or addictive pain meds. 

The phrase “conservative treatment” means non-invasive or minimally invasive treatments that pose little or no risk to the patient. In other words, safe, effective treatments that give long-term relief. The end goal of conservative treatment is to heal the underlying condition. If that isn’t possible, such as with arthritis, the goal is to reduce pain, improve function and help the patient self-manage their condition.

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect when you choose conservative treatments for chronic musculoskeletal pain.

Conservative Treatments and Integrated Care

Choosing the right clinic and type of conservative care for your injuries is essential. When patients think about conservative treatments, chiropractic care often comes to mind, but it is just one potential treatment path. The best practice in modern pain management is to include a mix of therapies to address specific conditions and promote continued relief after treatment. 

Studies show that patients whose pain is treated by a team of clinicians from different disciplines experience better outcomes. When these providers are able to collaborate in real-time on a patient’s care, benefits increase. Our integrated pain management specialists work as a team to provide patients with the best care possible. Combining medical treatments such as injections with physical therapy and chiropractic care results in well-rounded pain management and long-term relief. 

Here are the three phases of conservative pain management. 

1. Evaluation

Every new patient that walks through our doors has a consultation with a pain management specialist. We listen to the patient’s needs, take a thorough health history and perform an exam. If needed, we use imaging tools to help pinpoint the cause of a patient’s pain. Our experts can also identify problems that don’t appear on imaging, like nerve root irritation or inflammation. A team of specialists considers the patient’s skeletal structure and evaluates posture, soft tissue injuries, and sneaky causes of pain, like foot problems. 

Since we aim to treat the whole patient, we also consider nutrition and emotional components like stress. For instance, neck pain may be caused by an accident but worsened by poor posture or emotional tension. Your medical team should identify and address all these factors. Doing so will improve your chances of long-term pain relief.

2. A Personalized Treatment Plan

A conservative treatment plan for chronic pain should include treatments that fix acute issues like inflammation or disc injuries and therapies that improve whatever led to the injury. For instance, excess scar tissue or a stalled healing process may cause a sprained ankle to hurt long after it should have healed. Those are the immediate causes of discomfort. But the ankle may have been prone to the sprain due to weakness in the area. The ankle and perhaps surrounding areas will need to be rehabbed to improve function and help prevent re-injury. 

Persistent or chronic pain is a multifaceted problem. It often involves more than one body system. A sore knee may have a mechanical injury to the cartilage caused by a musculoskeletal imbalance and worsened by an immune response that causes too much inflammation. All of these systems need to be addressed by specialists. Your personalized treatment plan will include therapies that assist with all the issues causing your pain. In an integrated clinic, providers from different disciplines work together to implement a treatment plan and adjust it according to the patient’s needs.

Patients who follow through with their treatment plans experience long-term pain reduction and improved function, even with conditions like arthritis. Patients with curable injuries will experience permanent relief. 

3. Guidance For Self Management and Prevention

Injury and flare-up prevention begins in our office with physical therapy and rehab. Using exercises and stretches, your provider will help you build strength and flexibility. They will also address issues like poor posture, foot and gait problems, and other conditions that cause an imbalance in the musculoskeletal system. This approach leads to a more balanced musculoskeletal system than you had prior to your injury and prevents future issues. In the case of chronic conditions, it assists with preventing flare-ups and may even slow degeneration. 

Whether you had an acute injury that is now fully healed or have a chronic condition, self-management outside our office is the key to continuing to live your best life. Our experts will guide you on maintaining your progress and preventing flare-ups and reinjury. Your ongoing self-care may include exercises and stretches, lifestyle changes such as a more ergonomic work environment, and whole-body treatments like improved diet or supplements. Rather than being a revolving door, we aim to get you well and help you stay well. We are always available for questions and assistance after you complete your treatment plan.

Conservative Treatment for Chronic Pain In Houston

Vanguard Spine & Sport offers two integrated pain management clinics in Houston. Our teams of specialists work together to provide patients with convenient, comprehensive care. We have years of experience assisting patients with stubborn chronic pain and helping them get their lives back. Schedule a consultation today to discover how integrated pain management can help you reach your wellness goals.