Chronic Pain: Treating the Invisible Disorder
Almost all of us have encountered pain at some point, usually in its acute form. However, chronic pain is different and can frequently lead to restricted mobility, problems concentrating, sleep troubles, and depression. Chronic pain is an invisible illness that impacts millions in the U.S. Science has achieved significant advancements to help those affected by this sometimes-debilitating problem. At the Breiner Whole-Body Health Center, we are focused on technological advances in the industry and remain hopeful about the future; we continue to offer superior treatments for chronic conditions that provide real, lasting results.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is an issue whose source may or may not be obvious but may become a persistent condition over time. Describing pain is difficult as everyone experiences it differently; however, it is always an unpleasant and disruptive experience. “Chronic” refers to something persistent that may have lasted for three months or more (even years). Chronic pain is a physical burden that can remain invisible to the naked eye. When you injure a body part, pain signals are triggered to make you aware of the situation. Acute pains commonly result from abrasions, burns, cuts, fractures, and surgical or dental procedures. When the injury heals, the pain signal stabilizes. With chronic pains, the signal does not switch off but rather worsens as time passes and can interfere with your daily life.
Chronic pain is widespread in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 50 million Americans, or just over 20 percent, have some form of chronic pain. The constant pain leaves you troubled both physically and emotionally. For this reason, experienced healthcare professionals apply a multi-tiered approach for managing chronic pain in individuals of all ages and pains of all levels.
Common Conditions Associated with Chronic Pain
Four common conditions associated with chronic pain and are very different from acute pain:
- Back Pain: Chronic back pain is widespread and a critical public health problem in the country. It can result from soft tissue degeneration, compression or spinal wounds, and twisting or lifting injuries. Weak abdominal muscles can also result in chronic low back pain. Back pain is one of the preeminent causes of lost productivity and absenteeism in the United States. The statistics are alarming: Approximately 20% of people in the United States experience acute lower back pain that becomes chronic over time, and more than 80% of people suffer from back issues at some point in their lives. A sedentary lifestyle accounts for nearly 54% of the cases, with approximately 5% requiring surgery. Moreover, back pain accounts for the third most common reason people repeatedly visit a doctor after skin disorders and joint problems, and treatment costs incur more than a hundred billion dollars annually.
- Headaches: You can experience different types of headaches, all with varying intensity, symptoms, and treatment options. A common headache may last for a few minutes or several hours and occur occasionally. However, chronic headaches are throbbing, persistent, and one of the most disabling conditions. Common chronic headaches include migraines, cluster headaches, eye strain, and those due to muscular tension. In the United States alone, nearly 40 million people are affected by chronic headaches, while the prevalence rate remains more among women than men.
- Joint Pain: Joint pain frequently arises due to physical injuries, overuse, infections, loss of cartilage, and aging. The symptoms may present themselves through persistent pain, stiffness, and swelling around the affected joint. The most common chronic joint pains American adults experience include arthritis, bursitis, and repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis or golfer’s elbow, runner’s knee, and shoulder impingement. Arthritis affects more than 54 million American adults, limiting nearly 24 million people from performing their daily activities to the fullest. Those who have arthritis can experience terrible, tearing pain that never ends, particularly when left neglected or treated ineffectively. The elderly, overweight people, and those leading a sedentary lifestyle may be more at risk.
- Nerve Pain: Patients with nerve issues experience varying symptoms and describe their pains differently. For example, some describe it as a stabbing feeling, while others feel a prickling or burning sensation. Sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, diabetic neuropathy, and trigeminal neuralgia are common neuropathic problems affecting individuals. The pain arises when the nerves become damaged due to trauma, compression, viral infections, alcoholism, surgery, metabolic health conditions, and medication side effects.
Discovering Treatments for Chronic Pain
Chronic pain can be disheartening and difficult to manage without professional assistance. It can have a significant impact on your personal life and your professional performance, affecting not only your physical well-being but your mental health as well.
You do not have to live in chronic pain. Seek help. Pain relief medications can be helpful for chronic pain; however, it is not in your best interest to mask the symptoms. Instead, it is best to address the underlying cause(s).
At the Breiner Center for Whole-Body Health, we offer individualized treatments to relieve chronic pain, such as:
- Shock Wave Therapy: Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) leverages the power of a multifaceted device helpful in getting the body to heal itself, thereby providing faster pain relief and a long-term solution. It is an FDA-cleared, noninvasive procedure producing high-energy acoustic waves applied directly to the targeted site via a gel to help facilitate energy flow. It has been in use for over 30 years and very often provides almost immediate results. ESWT increases blood circulation, physiological response, and metabolic activity, thus creating an actual healing environment in which your body heals the damaged area, making way for healthy cellular rejuvenation almost immediately. ESWT enhances one’s ability to move, helps reduce inflammation, aids in maintaining a higher quality of life, and helps mitigate pain-related emotional problems. Sports medicine practitioners swear by its benefits to treat even the most demanding conditions such as tennis and golf elbow and shoulder pain. People often see long-lasting results in just a few sessions. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy might be the solution if you experience chronic pain and other treatments haven’t solved your problem.
- Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP): This autologous (meaning it comes from the patient’s own body) treatment for chronic pain relief has shown significant results over the years.More and more people today are finding comfort through this all-natural technique. What makes it so beneficial? Human blood contains vital growth factors, and PRP therapy employs those to boost one’s well-being. PRP utilizes injections of the patient’s platelet concentration directly into the impacted site. Platelets are extracted from your blood, concentrated in an FDA-cleared device, and then injected to accelerate your body’s healing cascade, addressing joint, muscle, tendon, and ligament problems. The results are quicker and safer than regular surgical procedures since PRP is noninvasive and uses your blood. PRP is also favorable over injectable steroids and can be re-administered multiple times for better efficacy. PRP therapy is the future of chronic pain management, and experts suggest combining Platelet Rich Plasma therapy with other approaches to address each patient’s unique symptoms and conditions. The synergetic effect of combining PRP and ESWT can provide outstanding results.
- Biomagnetic Pair Therapy (BPT): Ideally, our bodies should be slightly alkaline. Less than optimal pH leads to cellular aging, pain, inability to heal correctly, infections, and general ill-health. Biomagnetism is a unique and highly effective therapy offered in our center. We use BPT to identify organs or tissues that are out of normal polarity. Placement of magnets, 1,000 to 4,000 gauss, on biomagnetic pairs at select points on the body allows restoration of proper pH. The magnetic field of the applied magnets affects hydrogen ions and thus the pH in the cells and structures. Restoring the correct pH creates an inhospitable environment for pathogens, improving immune function, reducing inflammation, and creating homeostasis. We have seen remarkable results using BPT to treat acute and chronic pain and numerous other maladies.
- BEMER (Pulsed Electromagnetic Energy Regulation): BEMER is a precise and highly effective modulation of amplitude and frequency. The BEMER device is designed to improve circulation, thus allowing our bodies to function correctly. Approximately three-quarters of our blood vessels are microvessels, and optimal blood flow through these microvessels is necessary for our well-being. BEMER applications boost blood flow, thus benefiting the body’s nutrient and oxygen delivery, stress reduction, relaxation, and even sleep management. Without the proper performance of the microvessel circulation, most of our cells are denied the nutrients required to function optimally. Our office has used the BEMER to enhance overall health and wellness, and we find the BEMER a great complement to our other healing therapies for patients experiencing chronic pain.
- Neurotherapies and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy:
Your brain tells you that you are experiencing pain.
Neurotherapies, including EEG neurofeedback, transcranial magnetic electrical stimulation, and brain rejuvenation protocols, heal the injured brain. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a medical treatment that utilizes oxygen to enhance healing. Patients breathe concentrated oxygen inside a pressurized chamber, allowing more oxygen to enter the bloodstream and cerebral spinal fluid. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves blood flow dramatically, allowing for improved function in the brain and increased stem cell production and circulation. The rise in oxygen concentration facilitates a reduction of inflammation and promotes healing. HBOT and neurotherapy can offer recovery from the pain associated with reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS), fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy, and Lyme disease and its co-infections (which can cause lingering chronic pain in various muscles and joints and other health problems). Combined with neurotherapies and other modalities, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a powerful tool to help calm areas of the brain dealing with chronic pain.
- EMSCULPT NEO: This new technology combines high intensity focused electromagnetic energy (HIFEM) with Radio Frequency (RF). This combination of HIFEM and RF has increased muscle mass by 25% and decreased fat by 30% in targeted areas. People experiencing pain due to lower back problems may not have the ability to perform exercises necessary to strengthen the abdominal muscles. However, now you can exercise while lying on a treatment table—each thirty-minute noninvasive EMSCULPT NEO session applied to your abdomen is equivalent to 20,000 crunches! Increasing your core strength may play an essential role in reducing or eliminating lower back pain.
- Dental Treatment: Many dental conditions can result in chronic pain. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) (often referred to as TMD) is usually due to malocclusion or disharmonious relationship between the upper jaw and the lower jaw and is often the cause of headaches, neckaches, shoulder aches, and backaches. TMJ can throw off the whole spinal alignment and even cause knee pain, leg pain, and hip pain, which can be alleviated by bite adjustment or repositioning of jaws to put them in alignment through orthodontics, appliances, and sometimes with surgery. Root canals and jaw cavitations (holes in the bone that harbor toxins) can cause chronic sinus problems, facial or head pain, trigeminal neuralgia, and more. They can be a source of bacteria and their toxic by-products, and can interfere with energy meridians, causing pain in far distant sites from the actual root canal or jaw cavitations. Dental extraction of the root-canaled tooth may be necessary to alleviate pain caused by the tooth. Treating the whole person with various modalities that may include homeopathy, ozone, and biomagnetic pair therapy often resolves the pain without surgical intervention.
- Other Therapies: Many of the modalities we offer also encompass treatments for pain. These include homeopathy, acupuncture, traditional Japanese reiki, photobiomodulation, pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF), and microcurrent therapy.
It takes time to assess your body and create an effective treatment plan. Please remember, everyone is unique and there are many natural approaches to treating pain. Pain is often multifaceted, and therefore the resolution of the problem may require a multifaceted approach.
Dr. Adam Breiner practices naturopathic medicine at Whole-Body Medicine at Breiner Whole-Body Health Center in Fairfield, CT. Patients from Connecticut and surrounding states seek his care for Lyme disease; brain injuries such as stroke, concussions, and TBI; and enhanced brain performance.
Visit www.wholebodymed.com or to schedule an appointment, call 203-371-8258 ext. 2. EMSCULPT NEO and other body contouring devices are available at Sculpted Wellness, located in our office suite. To learn more, visit: www.SculptedWellness.com.
Mark A. Breiner, DDS, is a pioneer and recognized authority in biological and holistic dentistry. Dr. Breiner is a health visionary with over 30 years of experience helping patients find solutions to baffling, unresolved health problems—even those seemingly unrelated to dentistry. Dr. Breiner practices dentistry in Fairfield, Connecticut. www.wholebodydentistry.com, or to schedule an appointment, call 202.371.0300 ext. 1.