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Chronic Pain – There’s More Than Meets the Eye

While many of the patients treated at MMT come to us in response to an injury, another group of people that we work with are those who deal with chronic pain.

As MMT Chiropractor Dr. Jeffrey Sergent notes, pain is an interesting concept and how we perceive pain can be very different.

“For example, you can spend a day working in your yard and wake up the next day and feel dull pain all over, but then you take something tiny like a paper cut and that can give you extreme, localized pain,” he said. “And then there’s something like phantom limb pain, when a limb doesn’t actually exist but you can perceive pain in it.”

For a patient with chronic pain, Dr. Sergent likes to take a multi-faceted approach to treatment.

“The first thing I will often do is try to find any threats that are contributing to that pain and remove them,” he said. “If you have chronic back pain, we’ll look at the postural part of it, such as examining sleeping and sitting positions.”

Next, he will look for mechanical and mobility issues by doing a functional movement screen and examine the patient’s mobility.

“It’s entirely possible to find that there are mobility issues, in which case, we will design a course of treatment to address those,” he said.

Third, Dr. Sergent will discuss nutrition and diet.

“If it seems that inflammation is contributing to the chronic pain, we’ll look into how an anti-inflammatory diet could help,” he said. “There could be a vitamin deficiency that’s contributing to the problem, too.”

And then there is what Dr. Sergent refers to as the “fourth bucket” or the psychological aspect of pain to see how that may be contributing to chronic issues.

“When someone is dealing with chronic pain, I like to take a long-term approach,” he said. “There really are no quick fixes, and I prefer to focus on goals the patient can achieve rather than eliminating the pain completely, which may not be possible.”

For example, if the level of pain is perceived as a five or a six on a 10-point scale, Dr. Sergent’s objective could be to create a treatment plan that brings that level of pain down to a two or a three over time. Or if the pain tends to spike, he may work to level out the peaks and valleys of the pain on a day to day basis.

Another approach he uses is to have patients pick the goals they want to achieve, and sometimes that can be a very simple thing.

“I had one patient with chronic pain who wanted to be able to stand without pain to watch his grandchildren play sports,” he said. “We worked on a way to do that, which included a staggered, standing position that did not aggravate his issues.”

Chronic pain is something that can be made manageable through a variety of approaches. Give us a call to start a conversation with Dr. Sergent on what you can also do to address a chronic pain situation.

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