In our ever-evolving, computer-literate society, technology assisting healthcare is an inevitable union. When it comes to helping professionals and their clients manage chronic pain, the call for help has been loud and clear. Experts estimate that between one-third and one-half of Americans are affected by chronic pain and, unfortunately, there are no simple solutions. However, a new Internet concept is attempting to make managing chronic pain easier, both for patients and their caregivers.
About Chronic Pain
According to an exclusive 2005 survey by ABC News, USA Today and the Stanford University Medical Center, just under half of adults have experienced pain in the last two weeks, and nearly four in ten experience pain on a regular basis. A normal physiological response, pain is the body’s way of telling its owner that something is amiss. While it is normal for pain signals to transmit during illness or injury, it is not normal for the pain to linger afterwards. In a chronic case, pain can continue for weeks, months or years after a person has recovered from the original illness or injury. Additionally, some people develop chronic pain unexpectedly, without precipitating injury or illness to trigger pain signals.
Massage Therapy for Chronic Pain
While an integration of various techniques can help chronic pain, massage is known to be one of the more effective approaches. According to a 2000 research study conducted by the Center for Health Studies in Seattle, Washington, massage therapy was found to be superior to acupuncture and self-care in pain relief for chronic low back pain. The massage modalities used in this study were Swedish and deep tissue massage, trigger-point therapy, neuromuscular therapy and movement education. Recognized by an increasing number of people, massage therapy is one of the first modalities considered for addressing chronic pain.
The Chronic Pain Challenge
When a practitioner chooses to treat a person suffering from chronic pain, they must first understand that recovery is typically a process of trial and error. There are so many different factors potentially responsible for chronic pain, that providers require continual feedback to adjust their treatment plan. Chronic pain may be caused by ailments such as:
- Nerve damage
- Injuries that have failed to heal properly
- Conditions causing aging
- Any type of arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Gallbladder disease
However, many more reasons can fuel chronic pain. Back pain, for example, may be caused by a single factor, or any combination of the following:
- Years of poor posture
- Improper lifting and carrying of heavy objects
- Being overweight, which puts excess strain on the back and knees
- A congenital condition such as curvature of the spine
- Traumatic injury
- Wearing shoes without proper arch support
- Sleeping on a poor mattress
- Psychological issues
- Aging of the spine (degenerative changes)
In many cases, however, the source of chronic pain can be a very complex and even mysterious puzzle to untangle.
The challenge of helping a client reduce their pain goes beyond figuring out the best approach (or combination of approaches) to help them. Whether treatment is rendered by an osteopathic physician, neurosurgeon, acupuncturist, massage therapist, psychiatrist or chiropractor, managing chronic pain requires attentive charting to determine changes in the patient’s condition. Practiced by most healthcare givers for treating chronic pain, tracking changes every day in the pain’s quality and location, medications taken, exercises being performed and other relevant variables, are necessary for achieving success.
Monitoring the progress of a client’s pain can be challenging from both ends:
- Healthcare practitioners often have a limited amount of time to receive and analyze information.
- Clients often have a hard time recording the daily changes in their pain, medications and other pertinent variables.
These burdens hinder the communication necessary between client and practitioner to effectively manage chronic pain. Encouraging patients to keep a diary of their pain, the medications they take and other lifestyle changes, supports this process. An innovator in chronic pain management, www.reliefinsite.com has made a virtual diary to facilitate regular note-taking, benefiting both those treating, and those being treated for, chronic pain.
The user-friendly interface of this technology holds many potential benefits for a massage therapist:
- Simplicity – It is easy for clients to go online and quickly record and track their pain, medications and other relevant information. Due to its ease, this method is a major step forward for fostering patient compliance.
- Security – Users of this service can safely share it with their doctors, nurses, pain specialists, massage therapists, family members and friends. Upholding HIPAA standards, all of the information is stored on secure servers to ensure personal privacy.
- Better care – Since healthcare sessions are typically limited by time, the freedom to review a client’s progress notes at their leisure affords practitioners more time to analyze each chronic pain case.
This Internet tool’s ability to improve client-practitioner communication can make a big impact on managing chronic pain. Recognizing the impact of medication changes, treatment-related complications or new health routines, the detailed tracking of symptoms, medications, treatments and the impact pain is having on day-to-day functionality is crucial for fine-tuning a chronic pain treatment plan. As professionals desired to help the growing population of people suffering with chronic pain, massage therapists can make good use of this valuable new Internet tool.