Many people consult me about the best way to manage their chronic pain. It’s true; my passion lies in assessing each patient and finding the best solution to resolve their pain–whether it’s a herniated disc, torn tendon, inhibiting scar tissue or a weak muscle. Sometimes, however, the root cause of their pain lies deeper. When this is the case, we have to employ more comprehensive testing to identify why they have persistent pain, inflammation or autoimmunity. This approach to more complex pain resolution is often referred to as Functional Medicine (FM).
FM holds the keys to a deeper understanding of the myriad of potential causes of pain, illness and autoimmunity (as reflected in the diagram above). FM looks at hidden issues, occurring at the cellular and metabolic levels. That throws our bodies out of kilter. Not everyone who has pain needs a FM work up. But when your pain problem cannot be solved easily, it is comforting to know we have the wherewithal to seek deeper answers.
More people are becoming aware of FM as they seek to address the root cause of their medical issues, rather than just taking a pill to manage symptoms. A work up is best done following an FM consult, during which a timeline of symptoms is established and an initial round of tests are ordered. Please note that most FM testing is considered “not covered” under Medicare and most health insurance plans. A follow-up visit is scheduled to review the test results and establish an initial care plan. This can be done in person or virtually, as long as the patient is a resident of Virginia or North Carolina. Keep in mind that the goal of the initial FM work up is to pare down the likely imbalances at the root of symptoms. Depending on the findings, further testing may be needed, as well as coordination of care with other healthcare providers.
To be clear, not everyone with chronic health challenges has pain, and thus FM as a specialty can provide the answer to many confounding symptoms. Because our role at Barr Center for Innovative Pain & Regenerative Therapies is pain management, we can only see patients with pain. For those who need other FM services, we can steer them in that direction.