Enduring pain day-in and day-out can severely reduce a person’s quality of life. While many Americans have come to accept ongoing pain as an unavoidable part of life, physicians at Fresno Surgical Hospital and around the world have developed pain intervention and management techniques to provide relief for patients.
According to the National Center for Biotechnical Information (NCBI), doctors classify patients’ pain into two categories: Acute pain decreases as healing takes place, while chronic pain is ongoing and, “is subdivided into cancer-related pain and nonmalignant pain, such as arthritis, low-back pain and peripheral neuropathy.”
Pain is common for patients who have undergone any type of surgery, but it also affects some patients in everyday life. Proper pain management goes beyond immediate patient discomfort; long-term pain mismanagement can have serious physical and psychological effects on patients, sometimes causing complicated health issues.
To create an effective pain management plan, doctors interview patients about their day-to-day pain-related experiences. These early conversations direct doctors on the appropriate steps to effectively treat patients’ pain. Physicians have several effective methods to choose from to ensure patients get the best, most relevant treatment for the type of pain that they are experiencing. In addition to exercise and healthy eating, doctors can prescribe medication and physical therapy to treat pain. If patients continually experience pain despite medication and therapy, doctors can explore alternative treatments to bring patients relief.
The most common types of pain management and intervention methods include:
Epidurals: Epidurals are well-known for their use during childbirth. The treatment also proves effective and safe when used to treat low-back pain, neck pain, or other extremity pain. For patients experiencing low-back pain, the overwhelming numbness, tingling and weakness can be relieved with epidural steroid injections. The procedure inserts steroids into the area around the spinal cord to relieve inflammation. Epidurals offer temporary relief, which can last for several months to up to a year. Patients can have up to three epidurals during one year.
Medial branch block: Medial branch nerves carry pain signals to your brain from the facet joints on your spine. Medial branch blocks are diagnostic procedures to determine if the facet joint is the actual source of a patient’s pain. Patients discuss any immediate pain relief with the doctor and keep a pain journal for the first few hours after the injection so that the doctor can determine the appropriate follow-up action.
If the doctor determines the facet joint is the cause of the pain, a patient could undergo medial branch radiofrequency neurotomy to provide longer-term pain relief. This procedure uses heat lesions to interrupt pain signals so they don’t reach the brain. Patients who undergo this procedure can experience low-back pain relief for up to two years.
Spinal cord stimulators: For patients who have the condition known as failed back surgery syndrome, doctors implant a small device into patients’ bodies that emits electrical pulses to the spinal cord and masks pain signals before they reach the brain. Failed back surgery syndrome occurs when patients have already undergone back or neck surgery to alleviate pain with failed results.
“The common denominator in all successful pain treatment and intervention plans is open, honest communication between the patient and the doctor,” says Rasheed Amireh, MD, a pain intervention specialist with Fresno Surgical Hospital. “Our goal is our patients’ sustained success and an improved quality of life. With specialized staff and a comfortable treatment facility, Fresno Surgical Hospital’s patients can expect optimal results for successful pain management.”
Patients have several options to manage chronic pain. While the pain may seem overwhelming and never-ending at times, appropriate analysis and intervention can lead to successful management and treatment.
Fresno Surgical Hospital is an award-winning physician-owned hospital. Learn more about pain intervention procedures at www.FresnoSurgicalHospital.com.