The human body endures all kinds of punishing activities—from participating in competitive athletics to sitting in an office chair for hours at a time. After years of this kind of abuse—or even after a single traumatic accident—the resulting pain can be very difficult to overcome. When rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain relievers no longer provide relief, it might be time to consult an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in pain management. Whether your pain is in your back, neck, arms, legs, or feet, the pain management team at Northwest Extremity Specialists will work with you to find a solution to your suffering.
Conditions That Can Cause Acute or Chronic Pain
Many of us accept aches and pains as a way of life—particularly if we are physically active or over 50. However, we might be suffering unnecessarily. Many common injuries and conditions that cause pain respond well to treatment after a correct diagnosis is made. We help patients with conditions such as the following:
- Tendonitis. Tendons are thick, fibrous cords that attach muscle to bone. When tendons become inflamed from overuse or exertion, it can take some time for the swelling to go down, and the pain can be hard to manage. Tendonitis commonly occurs in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and heels. Because it’s impossible to avoid using these joints, tendonitis can cause chronic pain if it is not diagnosed and treated.
- Arthritis. Arthritis is a general term that refers to swelling and stiffness in a joint. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is caused by wear and tear on a joint and generally affects people as they age. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that usually affects more than one joint at a time. There is no cure for most forms of arthritis, so learning pain management strategies is an important step toward being able to live an active life.
- Tissue tears. Muscles, ligaments, and tendons can be torn in a traumatic injury such as a fall or after years of inflammation and deterioration. Depending on where the torn tissue is located and how much pain and limitation it causes, it might be treated conservatively or repaired with a surgical procedure.
- Sciatica. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body and runs from the lower back through the hips and down each leg. When a herniated disc or boney mass puts pressure on a segment of the nerve, pain can travel down the leg and even cause numbness and immobility. In most people, sciatica responds well to conservative treatment such as rest and physical therapy.
- Back and neck pain. Chronic back or neck pain is often caused by a herniated or ruptured disc along the spinal cord. Because disc injuries are often the result of work-related activities, it can be challenging to overcome them through rest and other conservative measures. There are other therapies and treatments available.
- Foot and ankle problems. Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, heel spurs, ankle strains, and other conditions affecting the foot might seem like minor inconveniences, but they can cause debilitating pain that keeps you from everyday activities—and the hobbies you love.
- Toe deformities. Bunions and hammer toes can cause pain in the affected toe joint but can also cause painful blisters and calluses where the toe rubs against the shoe. These conditions can only be corrected with surgery, but the pain can be managed with conservative methods before it comes to that.
- Repetitive-motion injuries. Carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive-stress injuries can cause debilitating pain that keeps you from doing your job and earning a living. These conditions generally respond well to physical therapy and can be helped with bracing and activity modification.
These kinds of injuries and conditions are particularly troubling because they can be difficult to “cure,” and they often recur even after an initial recovery. The sooner you see an orthopedic specialist about your symptoms, the greater chance there is that you can be successfully treated with conservative techniques.
Potential Pain Management Solutions
In our Portland-area offices, we offer a variety of state-of-the-art treatments and therapies to help you manage your pain symptoms. After a thorough evaluation and diagnosis of the cause of your pain, we will develop a plan that might include one or more of the following:
- Physical therapy. A combination of guided exercises and stretches, massage therapy, and help with assistive equipment, physical therapy is often the first line of treatment for many musculoskeletal conditions.
- Injection therapy. A variety of injectable treatments, from corticosteroids to platelet-rich plasma, can ease pain and even cure some joint injuries.
- Shockwave therapy. Delivering guided pulses of energy directly to injured soft tissue can prompt the body to heal itself more quickly than it normally would. This treatment can be effective on tendonitis and torn ligaments.
- Custom orthotics. Many toe, foot, ankle, and knee problems can be corrected—or at least improved—with the use of a shoe insert that is custom-made for your foot. Correcting your arch can correct your ankle and knee alignment and protect those joints from injury.
- Surgery. Many injuries and conditions that cause pain will require surgery in order to fully alleviate the pain. Often, orthopedic surgery can be done arthroscopically, meaning only tiny incisions are required. While you will experience pain as you are recovering, our pain management techniques can help you cope with that as well.
- Joint replacement. The best treatment for a chronically problematic knee or hip joint is often a total joint replacement. Long-term outcomes are generally very good, but it takes time to recover from surgery, and we will help you manage your pain during this process.
- Alternative medicine. We advocate for many alternative forms of pain management, such as relaxation techniques, meditation, acupuncture, and dietary adjustments.
Several of these options will often be used together to ensure a positive outcome.
Discuss Pain Management With Our Team
If you are suffering from chronic pain caused by a musculoskeletal issue, the skilled orthopedic surgeons at Northwest Extremity Specialists will develop a personalized pain management plan to help you. We will evaluate your condition to ensure that we are providing the best possible treatment options. Call us today at 503-245-2420 to make an appointment in the Portland-area office closest to you.