Chronic Pain Treatment Visalia – Evidence to support surgery for chronic pain conditions is severely lacking
October is National Physical Therapy Month, an annual campaign intended to increase awareness of the countless and wide-reaching benefits of physical therapy. Among these is the fact that physical therapy is one of the best treatment options available for chronic pain, an extremely common issue in healthcare today. In honor of the month, we’d like to discuss why physical therapy is usually the most effective option for chronic pain treatment here in Visalia or Hanford, and why interventions like surgery fail to completely address all components of these complex issues.
But to understand why physical therapy is appropriate for chronic pain, we must first explain what it is and how it differs from acute pain.
Acute vs. Chronic Pain
Acute pain is fairly straightforward: it’s the type of pain we experience after an injury like a broken wrist, which is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you that something is wrong with the body and it needs to be addressed. Chronic pain is much different: the pain signals that are sent out by the nervous system continue to fire and tell the body that something is wrong for weeks, months, or even years. It’s believed that this is due to the body incorrectly sensing pain due for reasons related to one’s psychological state and long-term perception of pain. While an injury or damage to the body may be responsible for the original pain message, for some patients there is no clear reason the body acts in this way, which often makes the condition even more difficult to treat.
One in Three Americans Suffer with Chronic Pain Include Those in Visalia and Hanford
Nearly 100 million Americans have chronic pain to some extent, which is more than the number of people with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. We know this because a. we see this search – chronic pain treatment Visalia on our web analytics and we also care for patients with chronic pain. Chronic pain comes in many forms, and has been described as a throbbing, shooting, aching, burning, or freezing pain. There is also a wide array of conditions that can cause chronic pain, including headaches, low back pain, cancer pain, and arthritis pain.
Physical therapists are movement experts that understand the importance of managing chronic pain with a multifaceted approach that considers each patient’s psychological wellbeing as well as their physical state. Other interventions, like surgery, only focus on addressing the physical aspects of the patient’s condition. As a result, even if the anatomical damage believed to be responsible for the painful symptoms is corrected, it does not necessarily guarantee that the patient will experience relief from their chronic pain.
This uncertainty is one of the many reasons surgery is not typically recommended for chronic pain conditions. Others include the high costs of surgical procedures, the extensive recovery usually required afterwards, and the associated risks involved in performing any type of surgery. Nonetheless, chronic pain is among the most common indications for surgery, particularly for prevalent conditions like arthritis and back pain.
Widespread Use of Surgery without Supportive Evidence?
Despite the frequency by which surgery is used to treat chronic pain, it’s been questioned whether there is sufficient evidence to support this type approach. To explore this question, a study was conducted that collected and reviewed the number of high-quality trials—called randomized-controlled trials—in which common surgical procedures for chronic pain were compared to not performing the procedure. The study also measured the number of randomized-controlled trials (RCTs) that were supportive of surgery and the proportion that used patient blinding, which is an important component of any robust individual study.
This search identified a total of 6,734 RCTs, but only 64 of these (less than 1%) compared a surgical procedure to not performing the procedure. Furthermore, only 9 (14%) of these 64 RCTs were favorable to surgery, and when considering individual procedures, the majority of studies did not favor surgery. Lastly, 12 (19%) of the included RCTs used patient blinding, which is a rather low proportion.
Based on these findings, researchers concluded that there have been very few studies comparing common surgical procedures for chronic pain to not performing the procedure, and most of the studies that did evaluate these procedures were not in favor of surgery. This highlights an imperative need for more high-quality research that assesses the effectiveness of surgery for chronic pain to support the use of this practice.
In the meantime, physical therapy remains a much safer and less expensive option for chronic pain that factors in the intricate nature of these conditions and addresses them with a multifaceted treatment approach.