Advocate for Treatments in the New Era of Painkiller Regulation
In the advent of a rise of deaths resulting from overdosing on pain medication, many have reached a state of alarm regarding the common prescribing of opioid medications. An estimated twenty-percent of patients with non-cancer pain are given opioid painkillers to treat their problems. Some people do become addicted to these drugs, which has caused many accidental overdose deaths. As a result, in March, the CDC released rigorous guidelines to physicians for the prescription of opioids for chronic pain to evade an epidemic of abuse, addiction, and the escalation of accidental overdose deaths from prescription opioids. Doctors were made aware that in the majority of cases, they probably should not be prescribing opioids, and that they should work diligently to reign in the practice of prescribing opioid-based pain killers.
Instead of prescribing opioids, both physicians and their patients must need to learn to think outside of the pill box. There are countless ways to treat chronic pain including tai chi, walking, and yoga. By learning additional tools, the less reliant you will become on medications to make it through the day. In addition to exercise and medication there are numerous alternative treatment options available including injections, radiofrequency ablation, and spinal cord stimulation, which we outline below.
Most injections to treat chronic pain are performed on an outpatient basis by pain management specialists. Epidural steroid injections are carried out in the back or next in an attempt to localize an anti-inflammatory steroid with or without anesthetic into the epidural region proximal to the painful region. Other varieties of steroid injections target different pain centers and include: facet joint injections, lumbar sympathetic blocks, celiac plexus blocks, and stellate ganglion blocks.
Radiofrequency ablation is an alternative treatment method to decrease neck and back pain. This treatment uses heat produced by radio waves to target particular nerves and temporarily obstruct their capability to broadcast pain signals. The radio waves are distributed to the targeted nerves by needles that puncture the skin on top of the spine. Simultaneously, imaging scans are employed to assist the doctor in precisely placing the needles.
Spinal Cord Nerve Stimulation
In spinal cord stimulation, a gentle stream of electric is directed to the spinal cord using small medical devices. This helps to control the transmission of pain signals and even substitute the painful feeling with a mild tingling (paraesthesia). Spinal cord stimulation places a bunch of electrical contacts in the epidural region located near the spine. The procedure is characterized as a minimally invasive surgery.