What are Pain Management Doctors? What do They do?

So many people suffer from injuries that affect their daily lives. From back issues to aches or pains felt throughout the day. While there are a ton of diagnoses for these patients, one specialty to seek medical advice from would be a pain management specialist. This is because of the wide area pain management specializes in from both acute to chronic pain.

What are pain management doctors?

Pain management doctors are physicians who specialize in reducing the pain that a patient experiences. Often this is accomplished through prescribing medications or working with a physical therapist to develop a treatment plan.

Pain management doctors can come from all kinds of medical backgrounds such as anesthesiology and physical medicine. From there, doctors will train and become certified to treat patients and help manage their pain.

What do pain management doctors do?

The goal of a pain management physician is to reduce the pain or discomfort of a patient. Some of the methods of treatment within pain management are prescribing medications, developing physical therapy regimens, or administering injections. These treatment options vary from patient to patient but ultimately are determined by the condition and severity of pain of the patient.

At TSAOG, our pain management providers take the whole body into account, such as your nerves, muscles and bones, to treat injuries and illnesses that affect how you move and accurately pinpoint problems to enhance your performance without surgery.

Types of pain treated by pain management specialists

One of the benefits of seeing a pain management specialist is the versatility or wide range of areas that they can treat. These can include acute and chronic pain.

Acute pain is any condition that has developed suddenly for a patient. Some examples of this are sprains, strains, or traumatic injuries. Some acute pains are able to go away on their own, but if they linger, pain management specialists can step in to offer treatment. This can be in the form of medicines or injections to give relief to the injury.

On the other side, chronic pain is a condition that has built up over time to the point where it is affecting daily activity. This type of pain can exist as a dull ache or be excruciating enough to keep patients from getting out of bed. Pain management specialists’ goal in this case would be to help treat the symptoms of the condition.

More specifically, pain management specialists see many areas of the body from head to toe. These include back pain, neck pain, disc herniations, rheumatoid arthritis, and so much more.

Types of treatment by pain management doctors

Because there are so many areas that can be treated through pain management, there are multiple ways for a doctor to help treat your condition. Treatment plans can consist of medications, injections, or even physical therapy.

Some of the prescribed medications that a pain management doctor uses are opioids, steroids, and other types of pain medications. While treatment options like opioids can be helpful in treating severe symptoms, they also have other side effects to using them regularly. It is important to follow the instructions and check in regularly with your doctor to avoid misusing them.

Physical therapy plans can help to alleviate pain by having patients increase flexibility, improve their strength, or increase their mobility when it comes to their condition. Pain management providers can use this form of treatment to help patients avoid taking too many medications that could cause more problems in the future.

If medications and physical therapy don’t work, then doctors can take interventional methods such as injections. Injections that are done with the assistance of ultrasound guided technology, or ultrasound guided injections. This allows your doctor to precisely deliver medications into specific areas of the body. These areas can include the knee, spine, and other joints in the body. Injections can offer pain relief and reduce inflammation.

PRP or Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy is a form of treatment in which a high concentration of the patient’s own platelets and growth factors are injected directly into the injury site to promote healing and give patients another treatment option for dealing with orthopedic conditions such as joint pain and several types of injuries. One reason that PRP may be used over a steroid injection is because steroid injections are not considered a long-term solution. Frequent steroid injections to control a patient’s pain can weaken tissue in the treated area. Whereas, PRP Therapy can offer the affected area an opportunity to heal.

One thing to consider when seeing a pain management specialist is the overall goal of their treatment plan. While most doctors aim to cure a patient from disease or injury, pain management focuses on improving the quality of life for patients. Not only is this the case for our pain management team here at TSAOG, but they also have the resources to accomplish this. Whether you need treatment through injections, physical therapy, or PRP therapy, TSAOG has the ability to refer to treatment options in-house. If you feel like you would benefit from seeing a pain management specialist, schedule an appointment with us today.

TSAOG Proudly Sponsored the 39th Annual CF Tower Climb and Run Hosted by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

The San Antonio Orthopaedic Group showcases its continued commitment to Cystic Fibrosis research and awareness.

San Antonio, TX: TSAOG Orthopaedics & Spine is honored to have sponsored The 39th Annual CF Tower Climb and Run. This event was held on January 27, 2024, at 7:00 am at the Tower of the Americas. The Tower Climb prides itself on being the most unique athletic challenge fundraising event in San Antonio. The event consisted of running one mile, followed by climbing up 952 steps to the top of the Tower of the Americas.

Teaming up with The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation through video, Dr. Kevin L. Kirk, a Foot and Ankle Surgeon at TSAOG, and his son, Andrew, shed light on the challenges of growing up with Cystic Fibrosis, drawing from Andrew’s firsthand experience. Thankfully, through the proper treatment, Andrew’s quality of life has drastically improved. This is just one example of how raising funds for Cystic Fibrosis research is essential for developing the right treatments and therapies for those suffering in the future.

Participants had the choice to register as competitive or non-competitive with a minimum donation of $100. TSAOG is happy to have made a meaningful impact with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for the Annual CF Tower Climb and Run. The event witnessed an impressive turnout of both registrants and attendees. Together, TSAOG continues to strive for a future where individuals with Cystic Fibrosis can lead full, productive lives.

How Long Does Hip Replacement Surgery Take?

Replacing an important joint like the hip is no small matter and tends to spark a lot of questions among patients. Thoughts of anesthesia or pain are some of the first things that come to mind of patients. Because of this, one of the most common questions patients ask before going into surgery is “how long does a hip replacement surgery last?” While this kind of procedure seems daunting, in actuality, hip replacement surgery is relatively quick with an even faster recovery time than most would expect.

How long does hip replacement surgery take?

So how long does a hip replacement usually take? For most patients, it can be completed in under two hours. Multiple factors play into how long you will be on the operating table such as health factors and severity of a patient’s condition. The type of surgery you are having plays into how long it will take. An example of this is a patient having a full hip replacement versus a partial hip replacement. In terms of recovery, most patients who go into a hip replacement surgery can go home, and even walk on their leg, that same day. It can take about four to six weeks after physical therapy before patients start to get back to daily activities.

What happens before a hip replacement surgery?

Before you even enter the surgery room, your doctor and medical team will have prepared you with everything you need to have a successful recovery period. This can include getting certain equipment or DME before the day of your surgery. Items like canes and shower chairs can make a huge difference in your quality of life while you are recovering. Another thing that your doctor will discuss with you is your physical therapy plan. Doctors always want you in the best shape possible before you go into surgery. So they may have you complete a few physical therapy exercises before you go into surgery to strengthen muscle groups to help advance your recovery time.

What happens on the day of a hip replacement surgery?

To make sure your surgery goes as smoothly as possible, make sure to arrive on time for your scheduled appointment. From here, you will meet with our surgical center staff who will review and sign any day-of-surgery paperwork, take your vitals, and get you dressed for surgery. Your doctor will meet with you one last time to review the surgery and answer any last-minute questions you may have before entering the operating room.
The surgery itself starts with an incision made near the groin of the patient. This allows the surgeon access to your femur (thigh bone). From here, your surgeon will prep both your acetabulum (hip socket) and femur with artificial components called prostheses. These components will act as your new ball and socket joint that makes up your hip. After testing the joint to make sure it is functional, your surgeon will close the incision with sutures.
Once your incision has been closed off, you will be moved into post-operative care while the effects of the anesthesia wear off. During this time your medical team will continue to monitor your vitals and check your surgical wound for any abnormalities. In most cases, once you have regained full consciousness and your medical team has made sure that you are capable and ready for transportation, you will be able to go home that same day.

What happens after a hip replacement surgery?

One of the most important things to improve your recovery time after a hip replacement is to follow the physical therapy plan laid out by your doctor and physical therapy team. During the first few days after your surgery, you may experience some pain or discomfort. It is especially important to follow through with your exercises at this time to strengthen the muscles around your hip. If you avoid doing your exercises or stay off your leg too long, you may have a prolonged recovery time. It is also important to follow up with your doctor after your surgery and let them know how your recovery process is going. If you have any concerns about where you may be during your recovery, make sure to consult with either your doctor or physical therapist to see the best results. If all goes according to plan, by the end of your physical therapy plan, you should be able to complete your normal daily activities with a low level of pain.

The overall goal of a hip replacement is to improve the quality of life of the patient who receives it. This is carried out through the entire medical staff every step of the way from prep to recovery.

If you feel that you are a candidate for a hip replacement, call or schedule an appointment today with a hip specialist to discuss your diagnosis and treatment options at TSAOG!

5 Hand Exercises After Hand Surgery To Assist With Recovery

This article has been reviewed by Dr. Michaelia Sunderland

Your hands are one of the most complex tools in the world. They allow you to grab and pick up things around the house; steer the wheel of your car to get to work; and type on a computer or phone to communicate with other people. All of these activities are done through muscles, bones, and joints all working together to achieve what you want them to. This is why it is so important to strengthen your hands after hand surgery. Conditions like carpal tunnel, rheumatoid arthritis, and a number of other hand procedures may be able to be remedied through hand surgery, but the recovery process after may yield the best results with proper exercises.

This article is meant to focus on some key hand exercises that a patient can anticipate after hand surgery. They all are designed to help improve the overall strength in your hands while also increasing their flexibility. While we offer these exercises as recommendations, please remember to consult with your doctor before attempting or adding these exercises to your daily routine.

Check out this YouTube Video on Finger Exercises After Hand Surgery with Dr. Michaelia Sunderland

Cast Touches

If you have a cast or splint on that restricts your hand from moving around in different directions. One of the best exercises to start with can be cast touches. To start, slowly and gently lower your fingers down to touch your splint. If you are having trouble bending them down, you can gently apply pressure with your opposite hand on your fingers to lower them closer to your cast. This exercise is not meant to strain your hand or fingers, but aims to stretch your fingers while being restricted. You might feel some tightness or pulling in your forearm throughout this exercise, which is expected. To keep your thumb involved, start off slowly by bending your thumb at the joint. After you feel comfortable, begin moving your thumb closer to the center of your splint to eventually touch your fingers.

Finger Taps

This exercise can be done with or without a splint. To start, lower your forearm onto a table to prop up your hand at about chest height. Making sure that your palm is face up, slowly begin to tap each finger to your thumb from one direction and back. Do this a couple of times to increase the strength in your fingers. Remember to slowly touch each finger with your thumb without raising the bottom of your hand from the table.

Tight Fist & Release

This exercise should be done after you get a cast or splint removed. To start, clench your fist tightly. Hold this position for a couple of seconds, then stretch out your hand and fingers as far apart as you are able to. Repeat this process for a couple of times to stretch out and strengthen the muscles in your hand and fingers. If you repeat the exercise and feel you need to add more resistance, use a ball or stress reliever while clenching your fist.

Wrist Movements

Another exercise to do after a cast or splint has been removed are wrist movements. To start, hold your injured arm with your opposite hand for support. Begin slowly moving your wrist forwards and backwards for about 10 reps. Give yourself a minute to relax, then slowly begin to move your wrist side to like a hand wave for another 10 reps. You might feel a slight pain in your forearm, which is expected.

Rotating Your Forearm

For this exercise, start with your arm close to your body and your elbow in an L-Shape. With your palm facing downward, slowly begin to rotate your forearm until your palm is facing up. Hold the position for a couple of seconds, then slowly rotate your forearm until your palm is facing down again. While rotating your forearm, remember to maintain your elbow at your side.

All of these exercises have the goal of improving the strength in your fingers, hands, and forearms after surgery. They are also meant to be done periodically and not all at once. Please remember to consult with your doctor before attempting to do any of these exercises. If you start to feel pain during an exercise or after you’ve completed them, stop immediately and refer back to your physician.

Quick reminder that swelling after hand surgery is common and can make exercises like the ones listed about difficult to complete. Some remedies to reduce swelling in your hand include raising your hand above your heart, draping your forearm across your chest and holding your shoulder (keeping your hand above your heart), and using a pillow to elevate your hand at night when you’re going to sleep.

If you’re experiencing hand or wrist pain, the Hand & Upper Extremity Institute at TSAOG Orthopaedics & Spine can help diagnose your condition and provide treatment options to deal with your pain. TSAOG offers experienced providers to help aid in your care that include in-house x-ray, casting, and physical therapy. Schedule an appointment using our self-scheduler today!

Looking for a Hand Specialist in the San Antonio, TX Area?