The Three Main Treatment Scenarios You Face – And How to Reduce The Risk of Getting the Wrong Treatment

What started as piriformis pain, wound up, after the piriformis was surgically severed, as widespread chronic intractable pain, which responded poorly to pain drugs.

There are three pain treatment scenarios. Ones in which there is:

one specific cause. This is determined by a specialist in the body part, organ or system causing the pain, or positive findings on different types of imaging studies. It is confirmed when the standard treatment for the cause is provided, and the symptoms decrease in a statistically predictable manner and increase when the treatment is withdrawn. Nerve pain that nerve conduction studies document clear nerve damage is an example.

no specific cause. Medical providers can find no cause for your pain. This does not mean that your pain is “in your head” or that you are malingering or drug seeking. What it means is that medical providers are beyond their experience base in the symptoms you present. This is evidenced by the fact that, when medical treatment (especially drugs) is provided, the symptoms neither decrease nor increase in a statistically predictable manner. Chronic pain syndrome, where the symptoms are significant occupational, social and recreational impairment, is an example.

multiple causes. Diabetes, heart, GI or other co-occurring chronic diseases produce a combination of symptoms that reinforce each other. This scenario requires a tightly integrated interdisciplinary treatment with the patient taking an active role in self-managing lifestyle and habits in ways that reduce the magnitude and frequency of the pain symptoms. Chronic pain syndrome is an example.