By Jessica Wright, nurse practitioner at St. Luke’s Hospital Pain Center

Does pain dominate your life? Does living with pain make normal activities difficult? Do simple tasks like sitting on the floor with your children or grandchildren, cooking, cleaning, sleeping or even something as simple as walking to the mailbox seem like a monumental task?

Living with chronic pain is a very frustrating and debilitating experience. That’s why it’s very important that you rely on a pain specialist to partner with you on your quest for reduced pain and improved quality of life. Many healthcare providers don’t always understand how to treat pain patients. Pain is very individualized and often misunderstood. Seeking help from a pain specialist ensures you will receive the best treatment available for your particular situation.  

Some days you may wonder if you will be able to get out of bed in the morning and how much your level of pain may change throughout the day. Chronic pain has no end. Family and friends may offer well-intentioned advice on how to help you deal with your suffering, but at times, they may not understand that chronic pain does not stop. 

Pain is invasive and inconsistent. There are many factors that contribute to how our body is affected by pain, including weather and previous activity. 

Medications are not the only way to treat pain. There are a variety of methods and approaches available. A pain specialist can help you determine how to manage your pain safely, effectively and with your best interest in mind.

If medications are recommended, you may find that they may not completely alleviate the pain. The discomfort may still be present to some degree; however, with guidance and direction from a pain specialist, you will be better equipped to successfully manage your pain, so you can participate in routine daily activities without so much soreness. 

There are multiple forms of chronic pain: musculoskeletal such as neck or lower back pain, neuropathic pain like diabetic neuropathy, shingles or phantom limb pain, migraines, post-surgical pain, traumatic pain, cancer pain, arthritis and inflammatory pain. 

When working with a patient, I look at their situation from multiple angles to better determine how I can address their specific problem. Chronic pain is very individualized; no one type of therapy will work for everyone. Often, I utilize my hypothetical ‘pain toolbox’ to determine what has worked in the past for this particular challenge: therapy, exercise, injections, meditation, self-care, diet, patches or medications such as anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants or opioids. What works for someone this month, may need to be changed over time. My goal is to help manage an individual’s pain so they can enjoy daily activities, resume social engagements and have an overall improved quality of life. 

Jessica Wright is a board-certified nurse practitioner in acute care and adult geriatric acute care.  She has worked in healthcare for over 20 years and has a background in pain management, trauma and surgical/critical care, occupational health and internal medicine. She specializes in the customized treatment of patients suffering from acute and chronic pain disorders and practices at St. Luke’s Hospital Pain Center in Columbus, North Carolina. To schedule an appointment, call 828-894-0978.