If you find that you have an acute pain, it is reasonable to start with conservative methods of pain management to see if the pain symptoms could be elevated naturally. Conservative pain management consists of nonsurgical and noninterventional modalities for the acute pain.
Among the first steps to consider are short-term rest, applying heat or ice, anti-inflammatory medications like Advil and Aleve, over the counter pain patches, also home exercises program if were already established during the prior physical therapy sessions.
You need to seek an evaluation by your primary care physician (family doctor, general practitioner) if the pain persists. This time conservative management includes a short course of muscle relaxers like Flexeril or Skelaxin, prescription of anti-inflammatories like Mobic and Relafen, local anesthesia patches like Lidoderm patches, possibly short course of oral steroids and even opioids pain medications as Tylenol with codeine and tramadol. It is very important to consider lifestyle changes, yoga, massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care and physical therapy at this point.
Low-grade pain that does not affect the function and quality of life may be easily managed with just conservative treatments. However, if the pain persists or becomes worse, an evaluation by a pain specialist is required.
During the evaluation in the pain clinic, you will be provided with comprehensive physical exam along with appropriate diagnostic imaging performed to find the source of the pathology responsible for your pain. Diagnostic imaging usually starts with plain x-ray views which will be discussed during the visit. The next step will be MRI or CT scan to look further for the pathology and correlate the findings with the clinical examination. According to the clinical findings confirmed by diagnostic imaging, you will be offered an appropriate interventional treatment to reduce the pain levels and help you to regain the function and life back.