Some people see the world in black and white.
This approach can narrow the perception of reality and drastically limit ways of dealing with any situation in life — the management of chronic pain included.
For these people, the available methods to treat chronic pain swing fom either some kind of ultra-natural holistic treatment using herbs and positive energy OR going under the surgeon’s knife and solving the matter in the most radical of ways. There’s also a group of people who believe that natural treatment is absolute fluff, and prefer skipping to the “cut me open” part right away.
In reality, there are so many alternative opportunities out there, in the zone between the white and black, and we call them interventional procedures. If you want to avoid surgery (at least for the time being, and maybe for good), and still receive an effective treatment to alleviate chronic pain, consider the following options:
Interventional procedures for chronic pain
Perhaps the most basic kind of interventional treatment, local injections are also referred to as nerve blocks. During these procedures, the doctor uses a syringe to deliver anti-inflammatory or powerful analgesic (painkilling) medications as close as possible to the culprit nerve, cutting it off from your perception of pain. Thanks to the local application, the effective dosage of drugs used in this case is much lower than if you would take them systemically (by taking pills or injecting them intravenously into your blood stream).
One of the undisputable benefits of injections is that they can be applied for almost any kind of chronic pain imaginable, often without requiring additional equipment from the physician’s part. It all depends on the treatment area. For example, the medications can be delivered directly into the affected joints in cases of musculoskeletal diseases, or into the epidural space of the lumbar spine (low back) for cases of chronic low back pain.
Intrathecal pain pumps
What’s better than a single injection of medicine? A single injection that works for days or even weeks, of course. By using an intrathecal pain pump, the physician inserts the end of a special device into your spinal canal—the narrow space in your spine which contains the spinal cord and the beginning of all nerves rooting from it. After that, the pump is programmed to deliver a minuscule amount of medication regularly and directly to the place where it is most effective: closer to the spinal cord and neural roots. Thanks to such an approach, a single injection (used to deliver the pump’s tube into the intrathecal space) subsequently brings consistent relief for weeks, without having to repeat the injections. Another great benefit of intrathecal pain pumps is that they use an even smaller dose of medications than regular injections and minimize the side-effects of larger amounts of medications.
This is the collective name for various techniques which share a single thing in common: they promote regenerative processes in your body, usually by means of activating your inner resources. As a rule, these procedures involve using autologous (the patient’s own) tissues to incite reparation, for example, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) samples or previously cultivated stem cells. Hundreds of scientific studies indicate that they are effective for the treatment of such conditions like discogenic low back pain, degenerative joint diseases, neuropathic musculoskeletal pain, among other chronic conditions. An world-wide industry leader in stem cell treatments is the company Regenexx who are pioneers in this revolutionary modality of regenerative medicine. Read more about successful patient experiences with Regenexx.
By their nature, pain impulses are very similar to electrical impulses. Therefore, by applying a controlled set of electrical impulses into a certain structure along the route of pain (starting from the outermost receptors and going up to specific formations in the brain), it is possible to interrupt or at least block part of the sensation from reaching your body’s perception.
Devices for electrical stimulation are either implanted directly into your body and programmed to work automatically or semi-automatically later, or are used to carry out sessions of electric stimulation without leaving the electrodes inside you. One of the most important benefits of electrical stimulation is that it does not involve taking any medications whatsoever (except, maybe, some local anesthetics to deliver the electrodes to their destination point).
Minimally invasive procedures
Residing somewhere on the fine borderline between surgical treatment as we know it and conservative medicine, such minimally invasive procedures as neurotomy and rhizotomy are one of the best solutions for people who had tried all other approaches with little to no effect, but would like to give the matter one last shot before opting for open surgery. These techniques consist of severing part of the pain pathway to interrupt the flow of the impulse. For example, during neurotomy, the physician cuts a specific spinal nerve, while during rhizotomy a whole nerve root is severed.
In fact, many of these procedures can be done by means of radiofrequency, avoiding the part of actually cutting into your skin!
Interventional procedures for the treatment of chronic pain are the optimal solution for those patients who would like to avoid conventional surgical operations for their conditions but haven’t had success with purely holistic treatments. Such interventions range from your usual injections to minimally invasive techniques like neurotomy and rhizotomy, each with its own pros and cons. Be sure to consult your treating physician before jumping to any conclusions, but in any case: stay positive and remember that the surgeon’s knife is always the last resort, with many other effective solutions available to try first!
Before you make any decisions, take a break from surfing the Internet and seek out the advice of a specialist. In a no-obligation consultation at Algone, we will listen to your situation, and make recommendations for the least invasive way to treat your Chronic Pain. We want to see you get well soon.
This is the third article in a series dedicated to living a happy and active life with chronic pain. This article is meant for reassurance, a piece of support, almost a promise: you can do it.
Other articles in this series include: