New Hope for the Millions of People Living with Chronic Pain?
4 min. read
Baptist Health Miami Neuroscience Institute
If you’re one of the roughly 50 million U.S. adults who lives with chronic pain, you know how it can affect virtually every aspect of your life. It can last for weeks, months or even years, and it’s one of the most common reasons people see a health care provider.
Because it can limit your ability to work and to enjoy your favorite activities, pain management experts say that chronic pain can also diminish quality of life and even trigger anxiety and depression.
Eduardo Icaza, M.D., a comprehensive and interventional pain management physician at Baptist Health Miami Neuroscience Institute
Resource editors spoke with Eduardo Icaza, M.D., a comprehensive and interventional pain management physician at Baptist Health Miami Neuroscience Institute who specializes in diagnosing and treating various acute and chronic pain conditions including spinal, neuropathic and postsurgical pain.
Dr. Icaza says that chronic pain can result from bad luck, bad habits or both, and for some people with chronic pain, there may not be obvious evidence of an underlying reason. Thanks to advances in interventional pain management, however, patients now have access to a variety of different treatments that can help relieve or reduce their chronic pain symptoms.
Resource: What is the scope or prevalence of chronic pain in the U.S.?
Dr. Icaza: An estimated one in five Americans lives with some type of chronic pain every day. That is more than 50 million Americans, so there is significant burden of chronic pain that affects our patients, our families and our communities. There is a major need to treat the various forms of chronic pain that affects millions of people every day.
Resource: Who is affected by chronic pain, typically?
Dr. Icaza: Chronic pain becomes more common as we age and develop more arthritis and other medical conditions such as diabetes. However, there are other medical conditions that can develop in younger populations such as autoimmune conditions or disc herniations that can be treated by a team of experts and managed early on for a better quality of life.
Resource: What are the most common causes of chronic pain?
Dr. Icaza: A mentor of mine once summed up causes of chronic pain into two categories: those caused by bad luck and those by bad habits. Bad luck causes include the genes you inherited from your parents, and major traumas. Bad habit causes include smoking and being overly sedentary.
Resource: What type of chronic pain complaints do you see most often?
Dr. Icaza: Low back pain is the most common complaint that brings people to seek medical care. Neck and thoracic back complaints are other common conditions we can address. Aside from spine care, we are also trained to help manage other pain conditions including nerve pain, arthritis pain, cancer pain, headaches, and post-surgical pain.
Resource: How is chronic pain typically diagnosed?
Dr. Icaza: In order to effectively treat any type of pain, you have to diagnose or find the cause of the pain. This can be done by running tests such as x-rays, CT scans or MRIs. Sometimes we will order nerve condition tests or blood work. In other cases, we recommend trying accurate image-guided interventions or “nerve blocks” to help confirm and treat painful areas.
Resource: What impact does chronic pain have on one’s quality of life and ability to work?
Dr. Icaza: Chronic pain can severely affect not only the patient but also their loved ones if they have difficulty doing their normal day-to-day activities, work or favorite pastimes. Chronic pain can severely limit one’s mobility and independence and be associated with other medical conditions such as depression. Our goal is to work with a patient to understand where their limitations are to come up with a thorough treatment approach to best address their issues and improve their daily function.
Resource: Can chronic pain be successfully treated or is it something one lives with?
Dr. Icaza: There are various treatments including numerous medications, different therapies and both minimally and more invasive procedures that can be used to treat pain. That being said, some pain is a part of the human experience but our goal is to keep the pain manageable and to improve one’s quality of life.
Resource: How has our understanding of chronic pain changed in recent years?
Dr. Icaza: One of the areas where we have seen a better understanding is fibromyalgia, a complex condition that affects millions of people. We know that people who live with fibromyalgia experience pain stimuli more intensely and may benefit from additional care strategies before and after major surgeries.
Resource: Are there any noteworthy new therapies or studies on chronic pain?
Dr. Icaza: There is widespread interest in developing new treatments for the millions of people who live with chronic pain. The future is bright as we develop newer minimally invasive spine procedures with faster recoveries. There are new medications being evaluated for arthritis and nerve pain conditions. In addition, there is ongoing research into developing more effective regenerative medicine therapies – stem cells and plasma rich protein, for example.
Resource: Why should someone with chronic pain consider Miami Neuroscience Institute?
Dr. Icaza: We have a world-class team of specialists that work together to accurately diagnosis and effectively treat brain and spine conditions. I appreciate and enjoy having the opportunity to be part of such a unique team of compassionate and professional individuals.
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