Chronic pain can make even the simplest tasks hard to endure. Treating chronic pain with traditional methods over the last three decades has proven to be unsuccessful. And studies point to the fact that pain relief drugs, too often prescribed by physicians, have contributed to the current opioid epidemic
The state of Connecticut has instituted legislative changes in the last three years, yet opioid-related overdose deaths have tripled since 2012.
A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine shows a direct correlation between chronic drug use in patients with doctors who prescribe them more often.
But there are solutions for patients who suffer from chronic pain — that do not involve the use of addictive painkillers.
Interventional pain management treats pain without the need for long-term medication. There are many options available for patients suffering from musculoskeletal, neurological and cancer-related pain.
Diagnosing pain is subjective and identifying pain generators can be a complicated, multi-step process. A pain specialist understands the foundation and looks at the problem differently
There’s no dependable formula for quantifying pain. Physicians use a visual analog scale to determine where an individual lies on the spectrum of pain. But there are many factors that can influence someone’s response.
In the end it doesn’t matter, because a pain management physician focuses on how much a patient improves after treatment.
There are many different procedures that relieve and reduce pain, including injections of anti-inflammatory drugs, long-lasting nerve blocks, destruction of painful sensory nerves, and spinal cord stimulators.
Some injections provide immediate results. For example, when blocking an affected nerve, a patient can confirm whether or not the pain has subsided — in a matter of minutes — and get subsequent treatment to provide long-term relief.
Cutting-edge regenerative medicine techniques include stem cell and platelet-rich plasma injections, which involve injecting damaged tissue with a patient’s own stem cells or plasma. While the new cells adapt to their environment, they repair damage in the process. Although regenerative medicine is still considered investigational in the medical community at large, it is a rapidly expanding field, which has shown incredible potential for patients who do not respond to traditional treatment. For more information, visit ctorthopaedic.com.
Dr. Antonio Paz is an interventional pain management specialist at Orthopaedic Specialists of Connecticut.