Pain. It is defined as the physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness
or injury. If you are human, you’re likely no stranger to pain and
most of us will experience it multiple times throughout the course of
our lives. But for those people who live in chronic pain (pain that is
constant and has lasted longer than 12 weeks), these episodes of suffering
can be an extremely debilitating prison – robbing them of the ability
to live the life they want.
Inflammation frequently plays a large role in the continuation of pain.
As the baby boomer generation ages, we neurologists and other pain specialists
are seeing more patients with inflammatory conditions (arthritis, for
instance) that affect older populations and as such, more patients who
are suffering the chronically painful effects. The typical course of treatment
for the pain associated with these conditions is often confined to non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and Naprosyn),
steroids and other medications that can have severe side effects and risks,
especially with prolonged use. But new treatments have emerged that can
help control pain without the risks and side effects often associated
with other treatment courses.
One powerful tool that has been used in medicine for thousands of years
is electricity. While medications to control pain often work to block
the pain response in the inflammation cycle, electrical signal therapy
(EST) works differently. Some of the most promising ways this concept
is at work today:
Neuromodulation and Pain Control
Neuromodulation treatments are those that target the nervous system or
brain at specific locations in the body and are part of a growing variety
of methods that treat a number of conditions including
Neuropathic Pain and many others. This class of treatments delivers electrical stimulation
in an effort to relieve pain and restore function.
Radiofrequency – During this safe and effective procedure, an electrical current is produced
by a radio wave, which heats an affected area of nerve tissue. This is
designed to minimize the pain signals from that specific area. There are
a number of conditions that this type of therapy can be successfully used
to treat including
spine pain from arthritis and more. The degree of pain relief can be different for
each individual but for the appropriate diagnosis, the majority of patients
treated with a radiofrequency procedure experience relief.
Pulsed Radiofrequency (PRF) – A variation of continuous radiofrequency treatment for pain, this procedure
can offer the added benefits of pain control without the destruction of
surrounding tissue in the treatment area. The benefits of this are especially
noted in more complicated cases of neuropathic pain. In contrast to traditional
radiofrequency, PRF is delivered in short “bursts” to help
reduce risk of tissue damage and to confine the effect to the specific
nerve being treated.
Electrostimulation with Nerve Blocks – Traditional nerve blocks are procedures designed to interrupt nerve pulses
(which send pain signals to the brain) by injecting nerves with a local
anesthetic agent. Emerging studies are showing that a brief series of
combined electrostimulation and nerve blocks can significantly improve
pain associated with nerve damage, outperforming the benefits of medications
commonly used for these kinds of problems.
History and clinical studies have consistently demonstrated the merits
of EST over traditional medication therapy in many cases. But for the
most lasting effects, combinations of EST and local anesthesia as well
as expert delivery of these treatments must be employed and further explored.
If you or someone you know is experiencing the debilitating effects of
chronic pain that isn’t being well-managed, please don’t just
suffer through it.
Contact us today.