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When to See a Specialist About Chronic Pain

About 50 million adults in the United States struggle with chronic pain conditions. Technically, chronic pain is any pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks, but should you really wait three months to see a specialist?

John S. Michels, MD, is an award-winning pain management specialist in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas. He’s widely recognized for his medical expertise and the highly effective, patient-first services he provides for numerous chronic pain issues.

Here’s what Dr. Michels recommends you consider when contemplating specialty treatment for chronic pain.

Categorize your pain

Physicians typically categorize pain as acute or chronic. Acute pain is that which occurs in response to an injury, medical procedure, or illness. These aches and pains are temporary and clear over time as the underlying trigger resolves. We expect pain from a surgical incision or broken bone, for instance, to fade and disappear as healing occurs.

Chronic pain is that which lasts longer than expected despite treatment for the initial trigger. Sometimes age-related factors such as degenerative changes in the back, knees, or shoulders contribute to chronic pain.

Other issues, such as fibromyalgia, are related to the way in which your brain interprets pain signals it receives from various nerves in your body. 

Complex regional pain syndrome is another chronic pain condition that may be linked to prolonged immobilization following an injury or nerve damage linked to a fracture or other trauma.

Common types of chronic pain include:

Dr. Michels’ goal as a pain management specialist is to provide comprehensive treatments for chronic pain that are designed to tackle the root cause of the pain and improve your quality of life.

Let your symptoms be your guide

Rather than setting a rigid timeline for when you should see a specialist, Dr. Michels recommends you consider a pain management evaluation based on the intensity, nature, and overall effects the chronic discomfort has on your quality of life.

Symptoms that indicate your pain may be evolving into a chronic condition include:

Because everyone heals at a different pace and responds differently to pain, you may find it beneficial to check in with a specialist earlier rather than later to prevent chronic pain from taking over your life.

How do you treat chronic pain?

Effective treatment for chronic pain varies according to the underlying cause. Dr. Michels starts with a thorough evaluation that may include diagnostic imaging studies, reflex and balance testing, and other assessments to gauge the effects of chronic pain on your muscles and joints.

After reaching a diagnosis, Dr. Michels then develops an individualized treatment strategy that focuses on the factors contributing to your pain.

If, for instance, chronic pain makes it difficult to complete and reap the rewards of a rehab program for degenerative joint disease, he may recommend selective nerve-root blocks and other therapies designed to relieve the discomfort that’s stalling your progress in therapy.

Dr. Michels is willing to take on the toughest chronic pain issues such as neurogenic pain caused by shingles, chronic headaches, and other painful conditions with minimally invasive therapies that effectively address your pain, improve your mobility, and restore your quality of life.

He’s also a sports injuries specialist and former NFL Super Bowl champion who brings a unique perspective to treating chronic pain and decreased performance issues related to professional and amateur sports.

Regardless of what’s causing your discomfort, there’s an alternative to living with chronic pain. Don’t wait. Schedule a visit with Dr. Michels today to learn more about your treatment options.

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