Healthwatch: Managing Pain

Chronic pain can happen to anyone, at any age. Dr. Leland Lou, pain management specialist at Rush Hospital, says he has had patients as young as eight and as old as 96.

"It depends on what you do, how physically strong you are and sometimes how lucky you are, to avoid an accident that can cause pain," said Lou.

While no one is immune to pain, Dr. Lou says a key to prevention is exercising and maintaining good muscle tone.

Some pain comes through the normal aging process; arthritis is a common cause. Nerves can be damaged through trauma. Dr. Lou says pain can even result from medical conditions like cancer.

Treatment is getting better all the time. Lou said he focuses first on getting the best diagnosis of the cause.

"There's two ways of fixing things. You can change a lot of parts or you can diagnose what the problem is and try to fix it quicker," said Lou. "And the idea behind that is to try to see if we can diagnose it, figure out what the problem is, more than change a lot of parts. A needle can accomplish a lot of this, minimally invasive, won't leave a hole. The patient can leave the hospital with a band-aid."

Lou said he learns the most from talking to his patients about where and when their pain started.

"You do use medicines for pain management. It's not wrong to have pain medicines," said Lou. "But if you can fix something, it's always better to fix something than to just hide it."

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