Pain lasting longer than 12 weeks is considered “chronic.” Normally, the body should be able to heal itself within a 4-12 week period and if pain persists beyond that range, you may want to consider evaluation by a pain specialist. If you decide to schedule a visit with a specialist, you can ask about these 4 treatments everyone with chronic pain should know about.
The Answer Isn’t Opioids
Despite opioids effectiveness at relieving certain forms of pain like acute pain or pain related to surgical procedures, they come with risk. The severest side effects are addiction, dependence, and possibly overdose. Common, debilitating but non-fatal side effects include nausea, constipation, and abdominal distention. The treatment options below are adding effective alternative options for patients who would rather not use oral opioids.
Here are some promising alternatives…
Regenerative medicine is the use of cells from your body to initiate tissue repair and regeneration. Stem cells are now used on a daily basis for musculoskeletal disorders such as spinal disc degeneration, joint osteoarthritis, and ligamentous injuries.
Regenerative medicine is good for patients with:
Intrathecal Pain Pump
An intrathecal pain pump works to alleviate pain by administering small amounts of medication directly into the space surrounding the spinal cord, as opposed to orally. The pump is inserted into the skin overlying the abdomen, with a small piece of tubing placed close to the spinal cord. The pump is programmed to administer medication at the necessary times and doses recommended by your doctor.
Intrathecal pain pumps are good treatment options for patients with:
- Chronic pain that cannot be controlled with oral opioids
- Severe side effects related to oral opioid use
Image: Intrathecal pain pumps can achieve pain control with less than 1% of the amount of oral medication that would be needed which can significantly reduce side effects.
Spinal Cord Stimulation
A spinal cord stimulator is used to mask pain signals before reaching the brain. A small device, similar to a pacemaker, delivers electrical pulses to the spinal cord.
Spinal cord stimulators are usually used for patients with:
- Persistent pain after back surgery
- Medical conditions that prohibit back surgery
Radiofrequency ablation uses small electrical currents to eliminate a nerve’s ability to transmit pain signals. During the procedure, a minimally invasive pain doctor places a small probe into the culprit nerve bundle. Numbing medication is given, the radiofrequency probe is activated, and within 90 seconds the portion of the nerve sending pain signals is deactivated. Pain relief lasts 9 months to more than 2 years, proving effective in 70-80% of patients.
Radiofrequency ablation is best for patients with:
- Chronic pain related to degeneration of the spine
- Chronic pain related to arthritis of the knees
- Chronic pain related to sacroiliitis
Could these options work for me?
The decision to undergo one of the above decisions starts with a consultation from a medical doctor with expertise in pain management. If you have a doctor that is currently managing your pain, ask if you are a candidate. If you do not have a pain management doctor, you can book with one of ours today.