Pain management was the focus of the monthly Healthy Woman luncheon held Thursday, Aug. 1.
“Pain has been around as long as people have been in existence,” Dr. Robert Hannahan, of Hannahan Comprehensive Pain Care, said. “It’s going to continue to be around, and the trick is how you manage it individually for yourself. That is why, whenever I approach these things, everything I do weighs into that, from all the stuff we did when we were young to accidents we had, to things we have to do to care for sick family members, to care for our homes and things we have to do at work.”
He said he addresses each case of pain management on “an individual basis.”
“The philosophy I use is I kind of leave no stone unturned as far as what we will do to regress your pain,” he said. “There are simple things; there are complex things, and as I tell every patient, the thing that helps you the most is what you do for yourself.”
One of the main ways a patient can help themselves, according to Hannahan, is to have “less mass,” though there may be situations where genetics play a part in a patient feeling pain, such as with scoliosis.
“The thing that’s going to do everybody in here, I’m included with that, the best, less mass to pressure everything less, more mobility, more flexibility, more stretching,” he said to Healthy Woman attendants. “Pain follows, unfortunately, Newton’s Laws of Physics, which are not good because most of them are related to mass.
“Newton’s First Law of Physics: an object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest.”
He provided an example of older individuals, stating that they are “always doing something. That’s what gets us to that age.”
“The Second Law of Physics: the simple formula of force equals mass times acceleration,” he said. “Again, mass is the key thing. Having less of that means less work on our bodies. It’s always a good thing.
“The Third Law of Newton is that for every action is an equal and opposite reaction. If we go to doing nothing, that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
When treating pain, Hannahan said he employs a number of methods, including medication and other procedures.
“I do all interventional pain procedures that you can do,” he said. “We do simple injections to complex injections. We also use the newest technology that they have, which is the spinal cord stimulators that you have implanted and use electricity to stop the electrical signals that get into your brain that make you say ouch.”
To Healthy Woman attendees, he described several procedures performed to manage pain, providing one example of a surgery to insert a device that burns nerves to prevent communication between nerves and the brain.
He said he also encourages physical therapy to treat pain, such as through the passive stretching associated with yoga.
“The passive stretching that that does doesn’t pound our joints, pound our bodies, so it’s easier to do,” he said. “All athletes stretch immensely. I look at the ones that are older in the world of sports… if you watch them before, during or after a game, they bend like a pretzel, and that’s how they continue to do those things.”
He also said there are “experimental” efforts out there to help patients in pain.
“They have newer technology that’s out,” he said. “They’re using virtual reality, and they’re trying to separate your mind from your body so that you don’t know what’s happening. That little device on your head, it’ll basically take you to where you want to be, not where you are so that you’re not able to think about your pain, and then train your body to do that.”
Hannahan said there is usually a way to treat pain for most patients.
“For most aches and pains in your body, we do have things we can do for them,” he said.