Chronic pain has become a significant public health burden. Doctors estimate that at least 50 million people in the U.S live with it. The affliction affects at least 10% of the global population, with an additional 10% developing different forms of crippling chronic pain every year.
In routine healthcare practice, treatment for chronic pain fails to achieve efficient relief in at least 40% of chronic pain patients, even though adequate treatments are currently available. Lack of knowledge limits chronic pain treatment choices and may affect desired patient outcomes, allowing progressive dysfunction and pain hypersensitivity to develop.
What Conventional Pain Treatments Are Available?
Conventionally, there are more efficient ways to treat chronic pain than medicines alone. Pain is best managed through a combination of various approaches, which include pain relief medicines and other interventional pain treatments but will most likely also include conventional alternatives such as:
Mindset and mood can influence how people experience pain. Therefore, it’s effective to have a pain-management plan that includes mood and social goals. Psychological therapies, including mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can help patients eliminate or limit unnecessary thoughts and change how they behave as a response to chronic pain.
Chronic pain patients naturally try to avoid excessive bending, standing, or moving around. However, stretching and exercise can often reduce pain and enhance the ability to function normally. Being less active makes losing flexibility, muscle mass, and strength possible, making it more challenging to perform daily activities, especially as you become weaker with time. Doctors may recommend massages, physiotherapy, or exercise to help manage pain.
With biofeedback, patients learn visualization and relaxation exercises designed to improve control over bodily processes such as muscle activity and heart rate. This therapy helps lower muscle tension, induce relaxation, and can help reduce the frequency of pain.
Mind-body techniques include meditation, yoga, and relaxation. These therapies can help lower stress levels and, in turn, lower the experience of pain.
Interventional Pain Treatments
According to the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP), interventional pain treatment is a discipline of medicine focused on diagnosing and treating various pain-related disorders.
These minimally invasive techniques aim to relieve or manage acute or chronic pain to enhance the patient’s overall quality of life. They are used for patients who may have failed to find relief with other conservative therapies.
Some of the most common interventional pain treatment procedures include:
Pain signals travel through nerves to the brain. Nerve blocks help interrupt the signals by blocking the nerve that gives sensation to provide pain relief. The type of nerve block will depend on your specific symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment plan. Types may include Lumbar sympathetic block, Celiac plexus block, Medial branch block, etc. Some nerve blocks are minimally invasive and may last for days or hours, while others may require surgical procedures and may be permanent or long-term.
Injections target different pain spots and generally include a steroid and a numbing agent. Various injections may be used to either permanently or temporarily lower pain. Some common types of injections include:
- Facet joint injections
- Epidural steroid injections
- Trigger joint injections
People experiencing pain from facet joint syndrome, osteoarthritis, and other inflammatory conditions may find relief from injections as an interventional pain management approach.
This procedure is usually used to treat neck and lower back pain, especially pain resulting from arthritis. The treatment uses heat therapy through electrical current produced from a radio wave to heat and destroy nerve tissue in an area and eliminate or reduce pain signals emitted from that area.
Spinal Cord Stimulation
This treatment involves the application of electrical currents close to the spinal column via a minimally invasive procedure. These electrical signals intercept pain nerve signals to the brain and block the ability of the brain to perceive pain signals.
This technique involves the delivery of medication directly into the body. Infusions are for unmanageable or stubborn pain and are generally for longer-term application. Epidural Infusions are delivered into the spinal cord area, while Intrathecal Infusions are used in the subarachnoid space in the brain.
What to Expect From a Chronic Pain Specialist
Because people experience pain differently, individuals require different pain treatment plans to help manage their chronic pain. If you are looking for help to treat or manage your chronic pain, a specialist can help diagnose and treat neck, back, and joint discomfort in addition to various chronic pain with effective interventional pain treatment. Fill out the form below to get in touch with the team at North Lakes Pain.