Pain is one of the body’s ways of telling us something is wrong. It is not a condition or illness in and of itself, but a symptom of something else. In some cases, we can pinpoint the root causes of pain; in other cases, we cannot. It is when root causes are unknown that we refer to pain as being non-specific.
At my London rheumatology practice, I frequently see patients suffering from non-specific pain. This pain is most often observed in the lower back. However, it can be felt just about anywhere. Non-specific pain is experienced in the upper back, the neck, and in all of the extremities.
It has been my experience, as a private rheumatologist, that there is both good and bad news about non-specific pain. Should you be experiencing such pain, my clinic is accepting new patients at this time. We would be happy to consult with you.
The Bad News About Non-Specific Pain
Let us get the bad news about non-specific pain out of the way first. Here it is – there is no definitive treatment that proves successful in every case. Unfortunately, it is difficult for us to effectively address pain if we don’t know its source. We can prescribe analgesics along with rest and, when applicable, physiotherapy. But without a source, there is no specific condition we can treat.
Take heart in the fact that the news is not as bad as it sounds. Almost all cases of non-specific pain resolve on their own. You may have already experienced this sort of thing in the past. Perhaps you felt pain in your lower back that could not be explained by a muscle strain, pinched nerve, etc. You took it easy for a few days and the pain resolved itself.
The Good News About Non-Specific Pain
Despite non-specific pain having no known root cause, it is generally not something patients need to worry too much about. We all experience aches and pains at various points in our lives. Most cases of non-specific pain are fairly benign.
The fact that a root cause cannot be found is evidence that a patient is probably dealing with something minor. There are no observable signs of inflammation. There are no broken bones, damaged soft tissues, or skin blemishes. The lack of any such symptoms indicates that the pain is not being caused by anything serious.
This is not to say that patients don’t deserve a thorough examination. They do. Before a doctor can diagnose non-specific pain with any certainty, all other possibilities must be eliminated.
Treatment with Analgesics, Rest and Physiotherapy
A typical case of non-specific pain is treated with analgesics, a short period of rest and physiotherapy.. Analgesics are pain-relieving drugs that block pain signals to the brain. They can provide relief for 4 to 6 hours per dose. Combined with a short period of rest, they can help the body heal itself from whatever is causing. the pain. The longer term management is to have physiotherapy to help keep the joints and muscles moving and to build up the strength in these areas. The is will slowly help to reduce the pain you are experiencing over time.
Remember that pain is a signal your body is sending to tell you something is wrong. When we can identify the root cause of a patient’s pain, we can treat that root cause and simultaneously relieve the pain. When no root cause can be found, we classify the pain as non-specific and work from there.
I would welcome the opportunity to consult with you about your health. If you are suffering from any kind of chronic pain, let me help. I am a trained rheumatologist with experience treating everything from fibromyalgia to lupus and arthritis.