Chronic pain is one of the most challenging conditions to treat in medicine.
First, it is invisible. There is no easy to recognize abnormality that can simply be fixed through a simple procedure or medication. It is an experience that the doctor cannot measure and requires empathy to appreciate the true scope of the problem. It is different than most diseases that are taught in a doctor’s medical training.
Second, it is a complex problem that involves multiple organ systems. For example, if you have chronic back pain, the problem is not simply the muscles, ligaments, connective tissue and bones of the low back. When pain becomes chronic, it is more than a musculoskeletal issue. It additionally causes problems in the nerves, spinal cord and brain. There are psychological and emotional factors that impact the experience of pain. Hormones and the immune system are involved, which impacts inflammation which has a role in altering pain levels.
Another challenge is the roller coaster experience of chronic pain. There are good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks. In order to provide support, a medical practice must be flexible to act promptly when the patient’s pain flairs and have the principles to treat conservatively when the patient is doing well.
To contribute to this dilemma, most pain medicine practices only work within a health insurance framework. This model uses population-based medicine to provide individualized care. The therapies offered must meet the framework of what is allowed by the insurance policies rather than what is right for the patient. This limits access to care for various services such as nutritional interventions, psychological therapy, functional medicine, acupuncture, meditation and mindfulness practices as well as other therapies that hold promise but are denied coverage for political and financial reasons.
Philadelphia Smart Pain and Wellness embraces these challenges. We aim to offer full-service programs that address the key factors involved in chronic pain and work to change our patient’s lives rather than simply manage disease through pills and injections.
We aim to celebrate the uniqueness of each patient and it starts with listening. Since pain is invisible, when other medical professionals cannot see it, they intentionally or unintentionally make the patient feel as if the pain is not real or simply in his or her head. In our practice, we seek to validate our patients’ experiences as a starting point to our treatment. Over the years countless patients have communicated the profound impact of that simple recognition.
Philadelphia Smart Pain and Wellness is focused on generalized health and functional improvement that combines with symptom management. We always focus on physical and emotional “fitness,” by emphasizing exercise and mindfulness. Our practice offers nutritional counseling because we recognize the impact of inflammation on pain and believe that diet plays the most role in modifying this factor. Our motto is to do what is right, not what is covered by insurance. These are investments we make with our patients and they are required to truly meet the match of chronic pain.
Improving the foundations of health are critical to living more gracefully in the setting of chronic pain, but this takes time, commitment and effort by our amazing patients. When pain is out of control, it is usually too burdensome to take on these lifestyle changes alone. For this reason, we offer aggressive interventional and medical approaches to dial down the pain. We strategically employ therapies not simply to provide temporary relief, but to promote lasting and holistic changes. In addition, we aim to be flexible and serve as a partner in treating the ebbs and flows of chronic pain.
Philadelphia Smart Pain and Wellness seeks to tackle tough problems. We are focused on constantly improving and evolving our practice in order to meet the full scope of these challenges.