Los Angeles Doctor Discusses Treatment Helping Thousands of Chronic Pain Sufferers

5:25 PM, Jun 04, 2019

Dr. LeTrinh Hoang is a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) who uses a whole-person approach to treat patients. Like a doctor of medicine (MD), DOs are licensed physicians with similar education and certification requirements. One of the main differences between a DO and an MD is the overall training he or she receives. Equipped with special education and hands-on osteopathic manipulative training, DOs are experts in understanding the body's muscles, bones and nerve system. After graduating from the University of New England's College of Osteopathic Medicine and completing a pediatric residency at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital, Dr. Hoang opened her own practice. During her clinic's second year, something odd happened … adults started coming to see her. Albeit a board-certified pediatrician, Dr. Hoang had a knack for treating adult chronic pain without opioids. The Crisis An opioid is a medicine that's commonly used to relieve pain. Although opioids are safe when taken as directed, it's all too easy for patients to misuse these types of prescriptions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid misuse costs the United States $78.5 billion dollars yearly. Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die from overdosing on opioids. Anyone can develop a dependence on—and abuse of—opioids. Although there are certain factors that increase one's likelihood of abuse, it's impossible to know who will become addicted and misuse these types of medication. "The opioid crisis starts when patients hurt and want to feel better. It's easy to write a prescription, so patients in pain are commonly given opioids. Some patients don't even know they have other options besides medication. With osteopathic medicine, diet, exercise and lifestyle modifications, it's possible to treat chronic pain with little to no opioids." Understanding the Layers Everyone experiences pain differently. For some people, pain is uncomfortable but mild. For others, pain is debilitating, even when resting. When someone sees a DO, MD or another healthcare provider for chronic pain, he or she will likely ask similar questions like, "Where exactly is the pain located?" Dr. Hoang takes her questions one step further, though, and for good reason. "The pain someone experiences can be due to a collection of injuries. Although only one area hurts, there might be layers and layers of injuries from the past causing the pain. In some ways, humans are like onions. With my approach, I am able to take my time, deeply learn a patient's history and better diagnose his or her pain. When you unload and treat injuries and trauma from the past correctly, there is often no need for opioids." Applications You might be wondering, "If it's so simple, how come everyone isn't doing this?" The fact of the matter is that it takes a lot of work to discover the underlying problems causing chronic pain. When people are working, taking care of families and otherwise leading busy lives, pills are so much faster. Still, opioids are not a solution for pain, only a cover-up. Pain medication will manage the symptoms of pain, but it will do nothing to resolve underlying conditions. "Many patients come to me after numerous surgeries, still in pain. People are sometimes worried I'll judge them on their surgical histories, but why would I? If I were in pain, I'd want a quick fix, too. Luckily, I know that resolving pain often takes time and rest. When treatment is done right, it's not fast, but it's worth it in the long run." Too Good to Be True? When someone is having a heart attack, he or she may experience pain, pressure or a feeling of fullness in the neck, jaw or shoulder rather than the chest, which is the actual site of the injury; in medicine, this is called reflective or referred pain. It's not uncommon to experience discomfort at a location that's different than the site of the issue. Since your body's nerves are a network, sometimes there is an injury at one

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