How to better manage pain and when to have surgery or use painkillers were some of the topics covered by Dr. Robert Hannahan at the monthly Medical Center Enterprise Healthy Woman luncheon.
Hannahan has been in practice for more than 20 years, and said the most important part of pain management is exercise and other prevention techniques.
His office is located behind Enterprise Medical Clinic.
“We try to leave no stone unturned as far as what we will do to address your pain,” he said. “There are simple things, and there are complex things. I tell every patient -- the thing that helps you the most is what you do for yourself.”
According to Hannahan, there are several options available including yoga, Tai Chi and other low impact activities, as well as stretching and -- if needed -- physical therapy.
“There are multiple locations here (for physical therapy ),” he said. “(I’m also) a big proponent of stretching and flexibility. The more everything we have moves, the less the painful part of our body has to do. Pain follows Newton’s Laws of Physics. (His first law says) an object in motion stays in motion, and an object at rest stays at rest. The people we get in here -- and I heard there were some people up in their 80s -- when we generally look at those people; they don’t sit down and they tend to be thin and they’re always doing something. That’s what gets us to that age.”
Hannahan said surgery and painkillers are also options, but other modes are preferred first.
“We use all the modalities we can use,” Hannahan said. “We use medication , and there are a whole host of them besides opioids that we always like to use. We’re living in a world where opioids are not a solution. They’re a problem. All the science behind it says the same thing -- (to use during) an acute episode is fine, but chronic use of it does several things to us, none of which are good. There are newer techniques starting to be used more trying to stay away from throwing medicine at people all the time.”
Surgery comes later in pain management and is usually performed when other methods have been attempted and patients get no relief.
There are interventional pain procedures, according to Hannahan, that can include simple or complex injections. He mentioned a new technique that uses electricity to stop electrical signals of pain to the brain.
Overall, Hannahan said the most important thing is being seen by a physician that can work to create a unique plan for your individual needs.
“For most aches and pains in your body, we do have things we can do for you,” he said. “My philosophy is if you can eliminate pain, you’ll eliminate the need for somebody to chase you with a knife. When we hurt enough, we agree for people to cut things out of us.
“Pain has been around as long as people have been in existence. It’s going to continue to be around. The trick is how you manage it individually for yourself.”