More than Meds

Pain Management Reduces Pain, Improves Function

More than Meds

By Jeff Stanley, CEO, Langdon Prairie Health

Too often, patients hear “pain management” and think that’s just another way of saying “here’s a prescription.” 

But pain management is really the opposite of that; what pain management actually focuses on are a variety of ways to control pain, which might include medication, but first centers on therapy, hands-on treatments, injections and exercise with the goal of reducing pain and improving function.

Reduction of pain can help people get back to doing their regular, daily activities – and back to the things they love to do – without as much pain. This includes simple things that we don’t even think about when we do them without pain such as walking and sleeping.

Pain management allows people to have an overall better quality of life. Unfortunately, too many people – of all ages – are suffering without realizing that there’s help for their condition.

As I’ve learned from the folks at Holistic Pain Management (HPM), LPH’s pain management partner since 2021, many people:

  • assume their pain is untreatable
  • think their only option is medication
  • feel that nothing works, after having tried so many treatment options that have failed to give them relief

As I was putting together my ideas for this blog, I sat down with HPM’s Chief Clinical Officer Amanda Bisby, NP, to discuss what pain management is, how it works, and who can benefit from it.

According to Amanda, there are many treatments that can be done to help the cause of a patient’s pain in the spine, joints or muscles. She added that HPM is dedicated to the patient experience, which means ensuring that all patients are educated on what their diagnosis is – and the options available for treating it. 

“We are going to spend time with you, helping you understand what is causing your pain and how the proposed treatments will help reduce pain and improve function,” said Amanda. “We want a patient’s visit with one of our providers to really stand out in a crowd: We see the whole patient and not just the pain they are dealing with.”

“For us, that means we allow patients the opportunity to share their pain story – with no interruptions, no rushing them out the door. Just a quiet presence and the opportunity to let us know what pain issues have been plaguing you."

“We realize that pain is complex and that the use of multiple approaches to managing pain produces better outcomes.” 

An Uncommon Approach to Common Concerns

When you see one of our providers in LPH’s Pain Management department, here’s what a typical, one-hour appointment for a new patient looks like, according to Amanda:

  • First, all new patients have the opportunity to tell their pain story.
  • Next, patients receive a thorough assessment to determine the source of their pain.
  • This assessment may include range of motion exercises, strength testing, sensory testing, reflexes, and other specialty testing used to help identify a specific diagnosis. “Education is a big component of the visit,” Amanda explained.
  • Before the end of the appointment, the providers will take time to answer questions and help patient’s feel comfortable with their plan of care, including follow-up appointments and what to expect if an injection is ordered.

Amanda added that pain management also requires consistent follow up and good communication between the patient and the provider to ensure that the patient achieves good outcomes.

“Just like anything else, I believe you get out of pain management what you put into it,” said Amanda. “Our team is passionate about helping people identify the underlying issues causing their pain symptoms and looks forward to presenting treatment options available through pain management.” 

“Low back pain is one of the most common pain issues in the United States,” explained Amanda. “Millions of people miss work or are unable to work due to this issue, and that it’s a common diagnosis to see in pain management.” 

According to Amanda, it’s most common for patients to feel pain in the following areas:

  • back
  • neck
  • joints
  • muscles
  • headaches

“We go above and beyond to ensure that we have the correct diagnosis and have tried the appropriate interventions before seeking alternatives to interventional pain management,” said Amanda.

When the “Just Deal With It” Treatment Fails

Nothing makes a situation clear like a story, so I asked Amanda if she could share a patient success story with me that I could pass along to you in this blog – and she followed up via email with this heartwarming story about a suffering grandpa who regained control of his back pain – and rediscovered his joy in his grandkids.

Read on; it’s a great story that really showcases how pain management can turn a life around and bring patients back to the things they love best:

We had a patient who presented to clinic with complaints of bilateral low back pain that had been bothering him for more than 10 years. He was a farmer, and, like a lot of us with demanding jobs and busy schedules, didn’t always make time to pursue issues related to his own health.

His back pain had finally become unbearable, and he was brought in to HPM by his wife to discuss his pain and, they both hoped, determine treatment options.

As we started to talk, he reported pain when standing for too long, walking even short distances and, occasionally, with sitting. He said that he had to take several sit-down breaks during the workday to alleviate the pain, and he felt that it took him twice as long to do his daily work as it had in the past.

He had not tried physical therapy or any other treatments over the years, other than the all-too-familiar to many of us treatment known as “just deal with it.” 

His wife mentioned during that initial appointment that they had two grandchildren, a boy and girl, who were 4 and 6 and loved to play at Nana and Papa’s farm; however, as of recently, Papa had been unable to play with his grandkids and often needed to sit down in a chair instead of chasing them around the farm or helping them complete chores like he used to.  

This was something that really bothered the patient – even more than his inability to perform his normal farm duties. 

After allowing the patient to tell his pain story, I performed a thorough head-to-toe assessment to figure out what was causing his pain. We determined that the best first course of action was to have some imaging done of his low back and then a six-week course of physical therapy.

“Papa” returned to his follow-up appointment, feeling that physical therapy had helped quite a bit in managing his pain, but he was still noticing pain with normal activities and still didn’t have the stamina to play with his grandkids. We later provided the patient with injections for management of arthritis in the joints of the low back. 

He returned to clinic for his two-week follow-up appointment with tears in his eyes as he told me about the relief of pain he had noticed – and the upcoming camping trip he was taking with his grandkids! 

He explained that for the first time in a very long time, he was able to stand up straight and could finish all of his farm chores without needing to take a break. He felt that his quality of life had significantly improved, and he was so happy to get his life back. 

I’ll never forget him saying, “I didn’t truly grasp just how much pain controlled my life. I would plan my whole day around what would cause the least amount of pain, whether it be chores on the farm, time with my family or simple daily tasks, or how I could complete a task without being laid up in pain for days.

“It was exhausting to always have pain and to have my life centered around it.”

This is a common story we hear in pain management: People just looking to have some relief of the pain that controls even the smallest aspects of their lives. And this is where pain management comes in.

If we can help reduce pain even a little, it can make a world of difference in a person’s life. We are passionate about bringing pain management services to rural America and serving communities throughout the country. 

We want to keep people local in their communities and prevent long drive times for specialty care. We look forward to helping the LPH community reduce pain and improve their function. We are going to treat you just like we would our own family. 

Next Steps For Relief

I don’t know about you, but “Papa’s” story really hit home with me – ten years is a long time to suffer, when pain management treatment is available right here in Cavalier County.

If you or someone you know thinks that now might be the right time to seek help for pain, give us a call at 701-256-6120 to schedule an appointment – or just to learn more about the pain management options available; remember, you don’t need a referral.

It’s time to get back to the things – or like Papa, the people – you love.