Why Finding Help for Pain is Never a Lost Cause

Eric H. Williams MD
Specializing in reconstructive surgery and pain relief in the Greater Baltimore area.

When you have pain—and especially neuropathic pain that is intractable or chronic—it can make life a simply miserable experience.

In fact, you might have symptoms such as:

  • Burning, tingling, electrical, or “pins and needles” sensations
  • Severe discomfort just from wearing clothes
  • Intense pain caused by contact with light objects, such as a bedsheet, drops of water in a shower, or even the wind blowing across your skin
  • Pain that makes it difficult to sleep and wakes you up during the night
  • Feeling as though an affected limb is wrapped in barbed wire
  • Pain in a scar or the surrounding area (if surgery was performed)
  • Numbness

Beyond the fact pain obviously hurts, it can also limit your ability to participate in favorite activities, let alone allow you to do the things you simply need to do – such as work and perform household chores.

Unfortunately, there was a time when some pain was considered by medical professionals to be something many patients had to learn to just “live with.”

The good news, however, is that time has passed!

Person having trouble sleeping

Now, some patients report continuing pain in the absence of a definitive pathology—which is an identifiable, anatomical cause of the pain—and are still sometimes dismissed by certain doctors and other health professionals. This does tend to be the exception rather than the rule, however.

In recent years, we have started to learn more about pain than we’ve ever known. This has led to a range of pain management treatments and surgical repair options that can possibly provide complete, or at least partial, pain relief for patients. Often, the journey to pain relief is best handled in a multidisciplinary team approach.

Our role in helping you find that relief is to search for surgically treatable causes of pain, and then determine if we have a technique that can help to address it.

Let’s look at why finding help for your pain is never a lost cause.

Accordingly, it makes sense to explore every avenue possible to identify and treat the source of the pain!

Before we proceed further, let’s take a moment to quickly clear up the role of our colleagues who participate in the field of pain management.

Pain management is an important discipline, one used to take away a patient’s pain so he or she can perform normal activities and enjoy life. Further, this practice is sometimes the best option for a patient when a root cause cannot be established.

That said, if there is a root cause that can be established and addressed, it is best to do so. In many, but certainly not all, cases wherein there seems not to be an identifiable cause, the problem could very well be neuropathic (nerve-related).

Neuropathic pain can present in many different ways – all of which highlight the importance of seeking proper relief and treatment. Depending on your case, you may experience problems like:

  • Numbness or Tingling – As is the case with dizziness, numbness and tingling can be caused by many medical problems. A primary care doctor can manage many of these problems, but some require the attention of a nerve specialist – particularly cases that are chronic in nature. If numbness or tingling has a sudden onset—and there is muscular weakness present—this might be sign of a stroke and should be evaluated immediately.

If the numbness or tingling has developed in response to injury or following a surgical procedure, the problem may be neuropathic in nature. Often, this is the case when, after a surgery, the treating surgeon (or your physician) reports that everything looks fine from a structural context. In such a case, you should seek a second opinion. If you are still being told there is noobvious reason for the pain, it is time to contact our office for a consultation.

  • Chronic Pain – Chronic pain lasts for months or even years. This pain can be the result of injury or illness, but when it lasts longer than the usual recovery time, it may be the indication of a different problem – one that can be nerve-related.

If this pain is something your primary care physician cannot help you manage, you should consider coming in and seeing us for an evaluation, and especially if you are being told there is no obvious reason for the pain you’re experiencing.

  • Weakness – Some people confuse weakness with fatigue. An example of true weakness is being unable to lift something no matter how hard you try, although you may have been able to do so earlier.

There are cases of weakness best handled through orthopedic specialists who are trained to address problems within the musculoskeletal system. When the problem isn’t a matter of muscle (or connective tissue) weakness, we may need to search for answers within the peripheral nervous system.

That said, some problems develop as a result of a problem with the central nervous system. In this case, you should seek consultation with an office that specializes in spinal cord and brain issues. Our practice’s focus is on the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord and extends to the limbs and outer regions of the body.

  • Difficulty with Movement – As with weakness, difficulty with movement can be a matter of a problem within either the central nervous system or musculoskeletal system. In these cases, there are other talented specialists who may be able to find a solution to the problem.

If you are having movement issues because of damaged, injured, or compressed peripheral nerves, we will be happy to evaluate your situation and determine if any of our techniques—or perhaps alterations to an existing technique—may be able to help.

Someone with pain in the knee

Depending on the source of your pain and difficulty, these kinds of symptoms could be relieved by procedures such as peripheral nerve reconstruction or decompression. We can determine which procedures might be appropriate based on our evaluation.

In the case of a compressed nerve that is causing the problems, we will start by identifying affected nerves, and then creating a plan to relieve pressure from the anatomical structure that is overlying the nerve (and putting pressure upon it). Releasing excessively tight vessels or tissues (such as fascial bands) that had been pressing on the nerve can restore normal nerve function and regeneration, thereby reducing or even eliminating the nerve pain.

It is important to note that some cases of advanced neuropathy or other nerve damage progress to the point that surgery can no longer reverse the problem. This highlights the importance of seeking timely intervention. At the same time, the only way to determine whether this is the case is by seeking professional consultation.

If you are experiencing pain and have been unable to find help elsewhere, don’t give up hope just yet!

We have been able to help patients who thought they were out of options and had no other choice but to rely on pain medication for the rest of their lives. There is a chance we may be able to do the same for you!

You should have every option available to you in life, yet pain takes that away. Give us the chance to help you get your options back. Contact our Baltimore office today by calling (410) 709-3868 and one of our friendly staff members will be glad to assist you. If you prefer, you can also take a moment right now to contact us online as well.

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