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Patient Innovation Pt 3: Pain Management

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Jessica Shaw

Over 50 million Americans live with chronic pain (1) and each one of their experiences differs from the rest. With pain being the most common and frequent medical symptom, it is important to understand the significance of properly managing and monitoring patients who endure chronic pain conditions like nerve damage, inflammatory diseases and acute injuries. For the third installment of our “Patient Innovation” #rtblogseries we wanted to provide you with some resources about why chronic pain matters and how RPM technology is innovating patient behavior. 

How Is Physical Therapy and Rehab Different From Chronic Pain Management?

While physical therapists and pain management specialists work with the same type of patients, their methods vary slightly in terms of treatment. Physical therapy involves strengthening exercises, aerobic routines and dynamic stretches that primarily focus on long term healing whereas pain management offers therapeutic injections, acupuncture as well as some specialty services such as hydrotherapy, massage therapy and occupational therapy (2)(3). However, they both share the common goal of reducing discomforting pain and often coincide so that patients can benefit from both complementary medical disciplines. 

How COVID Has Impacted Chronic Pain Management Services

As we all know, the pandemic has not only disrupted the delivery of patient care but has also influenced an entirely new future for the healthcare industry. The past few months have presented both threats and opportunities to people with chronic pain who may pose a greater risk of contracting the virus in addition to facing the consequences of limited treatment accessibility (4). A study conducted by Evidation Health, states 70% of chronic pain patients rely on over-the-counter medications and 46% suffer from severe conditions of fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis or cancer, demonstrating patients’ intense dependence on prescriptions and proactive care (5). On the other hand, while COVID-19 has definitely impacted clinical availability as well as strained patient’s access to medical resources, there has also been some exciting leeway for new virtual care technologies that will help implement better provider flexibility and engage patients with innovative methods of payment management and telehealth engagement.

pain management patient poll

How To Continue Pursuing Pain Management During A Pandemic

Virtual care does come with some proposed challenges, including issues with privacy and lack of reliability. Although these are valid concerns, recent studies have showcased positive telehealth trends, thus reinforcing the stability of virtual care satisfaction. (Click here to learn more) Along with telehealth, other integrative care opportunities have become more available such as analgesia medicine strategies and RPM technologies that will help increase healthcare sustainability, more accurately align payment models with alternative services as well as promote rural affordability and accessibility (6)(7). By overcoming these obstacles, providers will be able to streamline healthcare delivery and patients will benefit from treatment continuity. 

RPM Technologies That Support Pain Management

Aside from telehealth engagement via video chats, conference calls and other forms of electronic patient/provider interaction, pain management also involves patients learning how to take care of themselves, so that they are able to prevent future injuries and minimize discomfort. Not only is healthcare about communication, but educational resources prove just as helpful when it comes to promoting self care and personal wellness. From muscle stimulators to handheld lasers, infrared light and electromagnetic therapy devices are most popular for patients with chronic pain (8). For example, Quell’s transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) and Endonovo’s electroceutical therapy both allow patients to safely stimulate their sensory nerves and self distribute non-invasive electrical impulses that help initiate natural pain relief. With these devices, patients not only have the ability to practice self care but they also are more likely to follow through with treatment, resulting in improved progressive outcomes. Check out this infographic here.

Sources

  1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150113121206.htm
  2. https://spinepainny.com/how-does-physical-therapy-fit-with-pain-management/
  3. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/pain-and-pain-management-adults
  4. https://tripll.org/wp-content/uploads/Managing_patients_with_chronic_pain_during_COVID-19-pre-publication-accepted-version.pdf
  5. https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/chronic-pain-study-focuses-on-mhealth-tracking-care-management
  6. https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/resources/news-and-research/covid-poses-obstacles-opportunities-improving-pain-management
  7. https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/resources/practice-management/pandemic-presents-unexpected-opportunity-embrace-multimodal-analgesia-
  8. https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com/patient/resources/pain-self-management/12-self-managing-pain-relief-devices?page=5#top

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