Chronic or daily pain often becomes its own personal burden. Limited motion and decreased activity can lead to depression and overall malaise - a huge detriment in treating and eliminating pain. Not to mention the likelihood of a worsening condition.
Most patients consider surgery as a drastic measure; their final alternative to decreasing the pain at its source. But what if surgery is not the answer?
In many cases, physicians look to prolong surgery for a number of reasons. Age, for example: If a patient is young, s/he may not be a good candidate for a joint replacement, since many replacement parts have a short life span of their own and will need to be re-replaced.
Overall physical condition is another reason a doctor may not recommend surgery. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity may all increase the risk of less than perfect outcomes and can actually outweigh the benefits.
As pain specialists, we must treat each individual case with a customized program developed as a result of the patient’s lifestyle, overall physical condition, level of pain, and radiological test results (MRIs, CT Scans, Xrays, etc.).
Some alternatives to surgical procedures would be as follows:
Epidural Steroid injections
This outpatient procedure is an injection of steroid-anesthetic medication. It helps to reduce swelling and inflammation of the irritated spinal nerves. It takes just a few minutes to perform, but many patients feel significant relief after one injection. Others may need multiple injections before they benefit from the medication.
Facet joint injections
The facet joins which are found along both sides of the back of the spine may be irritated or inflamed. Under a fluoroscope, or special x-ray device, a Pain Specialist can pinpoint the exact location of the inflammation and inject a soothing mixture of numbing anesthetic and anti-inflammatory medications. Relief is usually immediate and may last from several days to several months.
Platelet Rich Plasma injections are a newer form of therapy and is a regenerative treatment for soft tissue, muscle, ligament or tendon injury. Blood components are taken from a person’s own body and used to treat the damaged or injured tissue. The blood platelets and white blood cells work together to promote healing in a more natural way. The growth factors released by platelets help stimulate healing and tissue growth. PRP allows us to treat tissue damage in a less invasive method and often results in a less painful recovery.
Pulse Stimulation Treatment has shown success in alleviating chronic lower back pain. This process of electrical stimulation provides a continuous flow of intermittent, low frequency electrical pulses to specific peripheral nerves with end locations in the ear.
Of course, there are additional avenues of treatment which are of a multi-disciplinary nature: Physical Therapy, Chiropractic Treatments, Acupuncture and Medical Massage all help to relieve pain when performed in conjunction with Pain Management on a regular basis.