If you've had chronic back pain for a while and have decided to look for a diagnosis and treatment, you'll need to undergo a series of tests and exams first to help determine the cause of your pain. This is important because there are different types of pain, and treatment can vary based on the type of pain that is found. Treatment for one type of pain may not be effective for another type of pain. Here's what you need to know before heading to a back pain management facility for treatment.
Types of Pain
There are several types of pain: nociceptive, neuropathic, psychogenic, and psychologic. For a simple explanation, nociceptive pain is the pain you feel when there is tissue damage, such as when you twist your ankle or cut your finger. Neuropathic pain is the pain that is felt when the nervous system is damaged and pain signals between the spine and brain are disrupted or dysfunctional. Psychogenic pain is felt when there is no clear tissue damage or nerve damage yet the patient complains of pain. Psychological pain is pain that can be attributed to stress, anxiety, and other mental or emotional factors.
Most commonly, chronic pain falls under neuropathic. However, it will need to be determined whether or not there is some tissue damage or growth that may be causing nociceptive pain. If no source of pain is found for either neuropathic or nociceptive pain, you will need to see a neuropsychologist to determine if the pain you experience is psychogenic or psychological.
Types of Treatment
Treatment depends on the type of pain you have. Because of this, you will first undergo various tests and exams to determine the type of pain, which may include evaluation by a neuropsychologist. Once the type of pain is determined, the following types of treatments are available for spinal pain:
- nociceptive: NSAIDS, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, opioids, spinal cord stimulation
- neuropathic: nerve blocks, neurosurgery, neurostimulation
- psychogenic and psychologic: psychotherapy, antidepressants, non-narcotic painkillers
Additionally, you may find pain relief through physical therapy or chiropractic care. However, it's important for you to coordinate all treatment plans through a back pain management facility for a comprehensive approach. That way, treatments will be congruent and not interfere with each other. As you go through the recommended treatment plan, keep a journal to document the various pain levels you experience during and after the various treatments and relay that information to your pain management specialist.