A single traumatic event, such as a car accident, slip-and-fall, or sports injury, can cause a painful injury. Pain can also result from microtrauma due to repetitive motions carried out on an ongoing basis.
For example, constant flexion and extension of the forearm, whether it be part of recreational activity or factory work, can cause pain in the tendons that attach at the elbow.
The pain can be either acute, meaning that it occurs suddenly, or chronic, meaning that it continues over time. An acute injury may cause sudden pain at the moment, but the discomfort can continue over time to become chronic. Therefore, the type of injury does not necessarily determine the pain’s duration.
Pain Management in New York
However, pain management specialists can treat both acute and chronic pain regardless of the event or events that caused it initially. Here are some treatment options that may be available to you depending on the nature of your injury.
Following an acute injury, your body often reacts with an inflammatory response that causes pain and swelling. RICE is an acronym for rest, ice, compression, and elevation, which are all things that you can do to reduce the swelling and relieve the acute pain from the injury.
While rest, ice, compression, and elevation are all things you can do on your own, one of our doctors can advise you on when and how to carry them out:
- We can tell you how long you have to stay off the injured part or avoid using it and let you know which activities are acceptable.
- We can wrap up the injured part for you and teach you how to dress your own injury at home.
- We can give you a schedule for icing the injury that reduces pain and swelling without putting you at risk for frostbite from overexposure.
Additionally, we can use our advanced, computer-controlled cold therapy system to accelerate your recovery.
2. Joint Injections
If the injury is in a joint, inflammation can linger for a long time. Joint injections help to relieve the pain and calm the inflammation to promote healing. The injections consist of two different types of medication.
One is an anesthetic that starts working right away to relieve the pain. The other is a steroid with anti-inflammatory properties. Joint injections work for several months, hopefully giving the injury sufficient time to heal completely. If pain persists, joint injections can be repeated once or twice. However, multiple repeat injections can damage the tendons.
Bracing provides support to the injured body part and decreases its movement, sometimes immobilizing it completely. All of this helps to rest the affected part and give it time to heal. Depending on the location and severity of the injury, you may have to wear the brace all the time or only at certain times of the day. As your injury heals, we may gradually decrease your bracing requirements until you are completely free of it.
4. Physical Therapy
While rest and activity modification is often necessary for healing an injury, disuse of the affected body part can cause atrophy in the muscles. This leads to the weakness that puts you at risk for further injury.
Physical therapy exercises can help restore strength and flexibility to get you back to your pre-injury condition. There are also modalities available in physical therapy that can help with pain relief, such as iontophoresis and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.
Here are examples of medications that our pain management specialists may recommend or prescribe for your injury:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers (such as Tylenol) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (e.g., ibuprofen) to ease your discomfort and aid other treatment methods
- Muscle relaxers if you are having spasms
- Sedatives if you are having trouble sleeping due to the pain
If necessary, we may also prescribe narcotic pain medications to help with your condition. However, this is usually not our first-line treatment. Because of the adverse effects these medications can cause, we must exercise caution in prescribing them, and you must strictly follow the instructions for taking them.
6. Other Treatments
We may recommend other therapies and treatments for relieving your pain, such as massage therapy. Massage helps to promote healing by increasing blood flow to the affected area and encouraging relaxation.
Taking care of your general health can also help you relieve pain from your injury. For example, lack of water causes muscles to cramp, adding to the pain of your injury. When you make sure you drink enough water, it helps to prevent your already stressed muscles from becoming tight.