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Specialists can help minimize the suffering of people living with chronic pain.
Suthar, a Fredericksburg pain specialist, injects a steroid into a patient's spine to relieve pressure from a pinched nerve.
SUZANNE CARR ROSSI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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BY DONYA CURRIE
Tears spring to June Satterwhite's eyes when she tells the story of walking down the aisle at her son's September wedding without a cane.
"I danced with him, too, and you don't know how much that means," said the 67-year-old Milford woman, who had broken her back several times and lived for years with excruciating pain that left her bedridden.
Like many area patients who had given up hope of getting through the day without unbearable pain, Satterwhite found relief through a multi-level pain approach involving traditional medicine as well as alternative approaches.
Several local doctors espouse a multi-pronged approach to pain management that might include surgery, acupuncture, massage therapy, psychological counseling and pain medication.
For the estimated 76 million Americans living with chronic pain, pain management specialists are working to spread the word that living with pain doesn't have to ruin your life.
"Many people don't realize there are specialists out there who can help them with pain," said Dr. Bhavin Suthar, of Virginia Interventional Spine Associates in Fredericksburg. "It's about pain management, not pain cure."
'A PILL IS NOT A SOLUTION'
Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined, yet any one of those other conditions can be the catalyst, causing pain that just won't go away. For those millions of chronic pain sufferers around the country, pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months or even years.
According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, some of the most common chronic pain complaints are headache, low back pain, cancer pain, arthritis pain and neurogenic pain, which results from damage to the peripheral nerves or to the central nervous system itself.
A chief concern among many medical professionals who help patients manage persistent pain is over-dependence on prescription pain medications, which have become the most abused drug in the United States.
While pain medication has its place when used properly, local physiatrist Anne Truong said, "When you have chronic pain, taking a pill is not a solution."
'NO QUICK FIX'
The Truong Rehabilitation Center offers trigger point injections into inflamed muscles, rehabilitative therapy including water therapy, acupuncture, psychological counseling and other services.
"We take a holistic approach," Truong said. "There really is no quick fix. That's the bottom line."
Truong likens chronic pain as an abusive relationship in which pain is the abuser.