Chronic Disease

Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

For patients who’ve tried other pain management clinics with little success, the Heilman Center for Pain
and Spine Care holds out hope for treating diseases that cause chronic pain. Use this page to learn more
about some of the most common pain disorders and the treatment options offered at the Heilman Center.

A woman with her kids after receiving treatment for chronic pain


Arthritis occurs when the cartilage around your joints starts to degenerate. Patients most commonly experience two main types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


As people age, it’s common for the cartilage that cushions their joints to wear down. When this happens, joint movement becomes painful, and patients may lose mobility. This wearing down of cartilage and the associated inflammation is known as osteoarthritis. It’s most common in the spine, hips, knees, and hands, but it can affect any joint in your body.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Unlike osteoarthritis, which results from joint wear and tear, rheumatoid arthritis symptoms occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly starts to attack healthy joint tissue. The joints become inflamed, swollen, and painful, and many patients seek chronic pain treatment for flare-ups in which pain becomes unexpectedly worse for a certain period of time.

Many patients experience a sensation of warmth in their joints with rheumatoid arthritis, and they note that if a joint on one side of the body becomes inflamed — for example, a wrist joint — the same join becomes inflamed on the other side of the body. In addition to joint pain, many patients experience fatigue, fever, dry eyes and mouth, and loss of appetite. They may also notice nodules on their joints, and damage to their tendons and ligaments can cause joints to become twisted and deformed.


Osteoarthritis is often progressive and has no known cure, but patients can still live an active and enjoyable lifestyle with chronic pain treatment. This is particularly true if they manage their weight and stay active as they age.

Rheumatoid arthritis requires controlling the immune response and preventing damage to the joints and internal organs. Pain specialists will work closely with your rheumatologist, both for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, to collaborate and find the best available chronic pain treatment plan for you.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) usually occurs following an injury, surgery, or illness. The pain remains and becomes more severe long after the original cause has healed.

CRPS usually affects an arm or leg and may include symptoms like touch sensitivity, skin discoloration, unusual hair or nail growth, swelling, and decreased mobility in addition to severe pain. Pain from CRPS is usually debilitating, which keeps people from being able to work and perform everyday activities.


Although there’s no known cure for CRPS, our pain management clinics offer a variety of treatment options. The goal of treatment is to block or interrupt the pain signal that is traveling to the brain, which lessens or eliminates the pain.

CRPS patients often become isolated and depressed, so they may require treatment for depression and anxiety in addition to pain treatment. The Heilman Center has many options to help patients feel better, in both body and mind.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease occurs when injury, disease, aging, or normal wear and tear causes spinal discs to lose their cushioning material. As the discs get thinner and more brittle, they no longer cushion and protect the spinal nerves.

Degenerative disc pain typically feels worse when you’re seated because sitting compresses your discs and puts pressure on the nerves. You may also feel pain when you change positions, and you may experience pain or tingling in your arms or legs. Degenerative disc disease symptoms may feel intense for a while, disappear, and then return months or even years later.


The first step to treating degenerative disc disease involves using advanced imaging scans to pinpoint the degenerated discs. Then, your pain specialist will recommend a treatment that takes pressure off the spinal nerves, whether that’s an interventional treatment, like injections, or a minimally invasive surgical procedure. These treatments are often done on an outpatient basis.


Patients who have fibromyalgia often struggle to pinpoint exactly what pain they’re experiencing. One day, they may experience leg pain that makes it impossible to walk or sit. The next day, they may experience back pain or spasms after performing what should be simple activities, like shopping for groceries. Acts that seem simple to most people may result in days of exhaustion or pain for the fibromyalgia sufferer.

Sometimes, fibromyalgia begins after a specific event, like surgery, physical trauma, or infection. At other times, symptoms build over time and can’t be traced back to a triggering event. The disorder affects women twice as often as men, and it’s often accompanied by memory and mood issues. In addition to pain, patients often experience constant fatigue.


Chronic pain treatment for fibromyalgia often involves medication to ease pain and help patients get more sleep. It’s also important for patients to reduce their stress levels, get some exercise, and pace themselves so they can avoid painful flare-ups. Your pain specialist’s goal is to help you manage fibromyalgia symptoms, become more active, and deal with the stress that fibromyalgia can place on your mental health and your relationships.


Neuropathy occurs when peripheral nerves — the nerves that extend from your spinal cord to the rest of the body — become damaged by viral infections, diabetes, injuries, and other conditions. Nerve damage can cause symptoms like numbness, tingling, burning sensations, touch sensitivity, muscle weakness, or complete loss of sensation.


In addition to trying interventional chronic pain treatment procedures, patients should monitor the parts of their body affected by neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy, for instance, often causes loss of sensation in the feet, and patients risk amputation because they fail to notice an infected wound.


Osteoporosis occurs when the body doesn’t make enough bone, loses too much bone, or both, causing a decrease in bone density. It’s often silent until someone experiences a fracture, feels back pain, or notices stooped posture or lost height.

Most patients notice osteoporosis complications in their hips, wrists, and spinal vertebrae. Women, particularly women of Asian or Caucasian ancestry, are at the greatest risk for experiencing osteoporosis.


Medications that improve bone density or slow the loss of bone density, along with exercise, can significantly slow the process of osteoporosis. Cutting-edge treatments like kyphoplasty, available at the Heilman Center’s pain management clinics, can help patients who have spinal fractures resulting from osteoporosis. Your doctor will let you know if this treatment is right for you.

Get Treatment for Chronic Pain Diseases

If you’ve been diagnosed with one of these pain diseases or you suspect you may have one of them, it’s time to learn more about the chronic pain treatment options available at the Heilman Center for Pain and Spine Care. Call us today at 734-796-7555 to talk to a patient service representative or Contact Us Now to schedule an appointment!