When pain lasts for more than 12 weeks, it's considered chronic. Chronic pain has the power to affect everything in your life – from your daily routine to your relationships. Many people become so used to their chronic pain that they forget what it's like to live normally.
The chronic pain management team at The University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City is here to help. Our board-certified, fellowship-trained pain medicine specialists have the highest level of training and education available. Our expertise ensures you receive safe, high-quality care when you need it most.
What is chronic pain?
Chronic pain may seem to have no direct cause or obvious triggers. It may affect one area of the body or be in several places at once. Chronic pain can make your muscles tense, steal your energy and limit your ability to move freely.
To create an effective pain management plan, it's important to understand what’s causing your pain. Our pain management team will conduct a complete pain assessment to identify the cause of your pain and pinpoint the most beneficial therapies. This in-depth screening will include a detailed review of your medical history so we can see what has and has not worked for you in the past. That way, we’ll only recommend those treatments that are most successful or that haven't been tried yet.
Chronic pain symptoms and risks
Pain is diagnosed as chronic when it lasts at least 12 weeks. In some cases, chronic pain may start out as subacute or acute pain following an accident or injury. However, chronic pain continues long after any initial trauma has healed.
In many cases, chronic pain does not begin with a specific incident. Chronic pain can also occur as the result of an underlying health condition, such as interstitial cystitis or endometriosis. The symptoms of chronic pain can last months or even years.
Anyone can be at risk for developing chronic pain, but especially those who:
- Are female
- Are older adults
- Are overweight or obese
- Experienced an injury
- Had surgery
Chronic pain diagnosis and screening
To diagnose chronic pain, your doctor will perform a full physical evaluation, including taking a full medical history. Your doctor may also ask you questions about your pain, such as how long you’ve noticed symptoms and whether the pain seems related to a specific incident.
Your doctor may also recommend additional tests to diagnose a potential cause for your pain, such as outpatient lab work or imaging tests like an X-ray, MRI or CT scan. The best treatment for your chronic pain will be determined by the results of your doctor’s tests and evaluation.
Chronic pain treatment
Your primary care provider is an excellent resource for beginning treatment to manage pain. You may want to seek your primary care provider’s advice on beginning treatment directly or referring you to a pain management specialist.
There are many different therapies for chronic pain relief. Choosing the best chronic pain management treatment for you will require a comprehensive evaluation. For some people, a combination of approaches might be recommended for longer-lasting pain relief.
At The University of Kansas Health System, we offer all of today's most current pain management treatments for chronic pain relief:
- Advanced cancer pain treatments
- Intrathecal pump implants
- Spinal tumor radiofrequency ablation
- Advanced spinal stenosis treatments
- mild® procedure for lumbar spinal stenosis
- BOTOX® for headaches
- Dorsal root ganglion stimulation
- Facet joint injections
- Interlaminar and transforaminal epidurals
- Intrathecal drug delivery for chronic pain
- Intra-articular injections for shoulders, hips and knees
- Minimally invasive interspinous, interlaminar stabilization device (Minuteman®)
- Nerve blocks (abdominal, occipital, joints and more)
- Neurolytic injections
- Peripheral nerve stimulation
- Multifidus muscle stimulation (ReActiv8®)
- Permanent systems (Nalu systems)
- Temporary systems (SPRINT® systems)
- Radiofrequency ablation (spine, knee and other joints)
- Sacroiliac joint injection
- Sacroiliac joint percutaneous fusion
- Spinal cord stimulation
- BurstDR™ (Abbott)
- High-frequency stimulation (HF10™; Nevro)
- Small implantable pulse generator systems
- WaveWriter Alpha™
- Spinal tumor radiofrequency ablation
- Tendinopathy management (Tenex Health TX™ System)
- Trigger point injections
- Vertebral augmentation (kyphoplasty/vertebroplasty)
- Vertebral basal nerve ablation (Intracept®)
Why choose us for chronic pain management
- Interdisciplinary care. Interdisciplinary care means that you will benefit from a comprehensive team of doctors and clinicians from different specialties all working for you. Our care team includes experts from physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychology, psychiatry, orthopedic surgery, neurology, neurosurgery and anesthesiology pain management.
- A comprehensive approach. We provide end-to-end care. That means we work with you from the moment you walk through our doors, throughout your diagnosis and treatment and beyond.
- Innovative treatments. Because The University of Kansas Health System is an academic medical center, we offer innovative treatments and clinical trials – often long before other hospitals can.
- Expertise you can trust. Our board-certified physicians provide the most advanced and efficient treatments to alleviate pain. As faculty members at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, they teach medical students and residents the latest in chronic pain treatment.
- Telehealth appointments available. We offer telehealth appointments for routine and urgent care appointments so you can get the care you need without leaving home.