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Diagnosing Pain: March 12, 2011

Pain. You may feel it in the body but there's a lot of mental pressure behind those problem spots. "Pain is a sensation that's attached to an emotion. Pain plays a role in our physiology. It tells you not to put your hand on the hot stove because we know that's what's going to hurt you. It's going to cause damage."

Dr. Adam Shuster specializes in pain and pain management. He says treating pain can be tricky. "You feel pain. I feel pain. But because of the emotional component it's not necessarily the same between the two of us. Even if we have the same problem, which is partly why it makes it difficult to treat."

While treatments can vary from patient to patient, allowing pain to go untreated can lead to physical and psychological problems. "Increased anxiety, stress, depression. If you can't perform your daily activities, if you can't work anymore, if you can't take care of yourself or take care of a loved one. These are causes for pain that really need to be evaluated and treated."

Dr. Shuster encourages patients to monitor when and how often they experience pain. "In terms of when its serious, typically, if you are having pain for more than three months and/or its causing a significant impairment meaning a physiological impairment, or a physical impairment, or even a psychological impairment."

When evaluating a patient, Dr. Shuster will consider medications, physical therapy, injections, even various minimally invasive procedures based on a patient's symptoms and history.