Choosing the right chronic pain treatment requires a complete understanding of you — how the pain started, what it feels like, how it affects you, and which pain treatment options you’ve tried so far. It also requires investigating what’s going on at the site of the pain and within your nervous system. The Heilman Center maintains a toolbox of both traditional and cutting-edge chronic pain diagnosis resources. They create a comprehensive picture of you so that we treat you as a whole person, not just as a collection of symptoms.
The History of Your Pain
When you come in for your appointment, your pain specialist starts by reviewing the history of your chronic pain. You’ll discuss how the pain got started, whether it began with an injury or whether it seemed to appear out of the blue. You will discuss which doctors or hospitals you’ve visited so far, which medications you’ve taken, which surgeries you’ve had, and which other chronic pain treatment steps you’ve tried. You’ll also talk about your family history, other medical conditions you may have, and your general overall health.
When visiting our diagnostic pain center, it’s important to be as truthful and detailed as possible with your pain specialist when discussing your medical history. It’s important to tell us if you had difficulty with some of your medications and to let us know everything you’re taking, including vitamins and supplements. We also need to know as much as possible about how your pain affects you. Provide details about:
- How often you feel pain
- How long it lasts
- How sharp or dull it is
- Where it is
- What makes it feel better or worse
Your pain specialist is there to listen to you, to understand you, and to support you throughout the process. The more we know, the better we can pinpoint the right treatment for chronic pain.
The Inside Story
Once we’ve learned as much as we can from your history, we might order diagnostic tests to uncover what’s happening with your body. Here’s a look at the tools we use to understand your chronic pain.
One of the easiest ways to discover what’s going on under your skin is to use an imaging scan. These scans help doctors understand what’s causing chronic pain so they can choose the best chronic pain treatment. These studies include:
- X-rays. Radiologists use X-rays to take an image of your body. Different types of tissue look different based on how much of the X-rays they absorb. You’ve probably had an X-ray at some point during your life.
- CT scans. Computed tomography (CT, or CAT) scans use X-ray equipment to examine a cross-section of your body’s tissues. You lie on a table during the scan, and the table travels through a large X-ray device.
- MRI scans. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans use magnetic rays to create images of your body’s tissues. During the scan, you lie on a table that travels through the machine’s center. You might find it noisy, so some doctors will provide earplugs for you.
Nuclear scans work by detecting radioactivity within your body. Doctors inject a small amount of radioactive material into your body, use a scanner to see the results, and determine the best pain treatment options. The amount of radioactive material is very small, and it’s not dangerous to you or anyone else. Here are some common nuclear scans:
- PET scan. A positron emission tomography (PET) scan uses a machine to detect the way parts of your body interact with radioactive materials. Doctors can use PET scans for many reasons, including finding cancer, studying brain activity, and observing blood flow.
- Bone scan. Doctors can examine blood supply, growth, cancer, and infection in your bones by observing how different areas of bone absorb radioactive tracers. You receive an injection, wait an hour or two for your bones to absorb the material, and lie on an exam table while the scan is performed.
- Myelogram and discogram. Myelograms use radioactive material to observe what’s happening in the space around your spinal cord. Discograms examine what’s occurring inside your spinal discs.
In addition to imaging and nuclear scans, your doctors might use ultrasound to see what’s going on inside your body. Ultrasound, which are completely painless, use high-frequency sound waves to create images of your body tissues. Your doctors might also decide on treatment for chronic pain by seeing how well your nerves conduct signals. These tests, which are called electromyography and nerve conduction studies, can identify nerve injuries and other problems.
Choosing the Best Chronic Pain Treatment
By taking a thorough medical history and using proven medical technology, the team at the Heilman Center can give you the information you need to choose the best treatment options for your condition. Take control of your treatment and stop pain from dominating your life. Contact us online or by phone at (734) 796-7555 today to get started.