Expert Health Articles

Back to the Basics: A Balanced Approach to Pain Management

Matthew Nienberg, PA-C

Pain Management
Blanchard Valley Pain Management

In the world of modern medicine, where cutting-edge technology and innovative treatments often take center stage, it’s easy to overlook the fundamental principles that underpin healthcare. There is power in returning to the basics, where the foundations of compassionate care, thorough patient examinations, and patient education play a pivotal role in patients overcoming their chronic pain.

The Physical Examination

One of the core principles of our approach is the value of the physical examination. During every patient visit, a provider should take the time to lay hands on patients, using a blend of time-tested and specialized physical examinations. These hands-on assessments are invaluable in diagnosing common spine conditions and offering a window into the patient’s physical state.

Some of the common physical examinations include the following:

Range of motion assessment: By evaluating how well a patient can move their spine, we gain insights into their condition’s impact on mobility.

Palpation: This method involves gentle probing of the spine to detect tenderness, muscle tension, or anomalies.

Neurological testing: Assessing reflexes, muscle strength, and sensory perception helps diagnose nerve-related issues. 

Straight leg raise test: A classic test for sciatica, which can help pinpoint the source of leg pain.

Provocative tests: These maneuvers can reproduce the patient’s pain symptoms, providing vital clues for diagnosis.

Understanding Your Pain

While physical examinations are an essential part of the diagnostic process, we equally recognize the importance of listening. Pain is a personal experience, and no one knows it better than the person enduring it. Providers should take the time to listen carefully to patients, understanding their unique pain experience and how it impacts their lives. This approach enables providers to tailor treatments to each patient’s specific needs.

Patient Education

We know that educated patients make engaged patients, and engaged patients often successfully manage their pain. A provider should dedicate time to patient education, ensuring that patients have a clear understanding of their condition and the available treatment options. We commonly use a spine model to explain treatments visually, making it easier to see and understand many causes and treatments for specific types of pain.

As providers, we understand that thorough examinations, clear communication, and patient education are key to effective pain management. We are here to support members of the community on their journey to overcome chronic pain.