There are numerous ways to treat chronic pain. They range from simple over-the-counter medications, advanced prescriptions to mind and body techniques like acupuncture. No single treatment is guaranteed to give complete pain relief. Permanent relief may even be found by using a combination of treatment options. If you’re experiencing chronic pain, consult Bart Gatz MD for personalized care and a variety of effective pain management options.
Over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol, aspirin or naproxen may be useful for relieving milder forms of pain. They are especially suitable for treating pain caused by muscle stiffness and aches, and they help to reduce swelling and irritation. Topical pain relievers such as creams and lotions can be applied on the skin to relieve inflammation from sore muscles and arthritis. If over-the-counter drugs don’t provide relief, your physician may prescribe stronger drugs. These include muscle relaxants and anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants for musculoskeletal pain, prescription NSAIDS or stronger painkillers. Steroid injections at the site may help reduce joint problems such as swelling and inflammation.
In many cases, a nerve that transmits pain signals can be blocked with medication. This nerve-numbing substance is referred to as a nerve block, although the treatment is rarely used as it can be too dangerous for you. Post-traumatic or post-surgical pain can be treated by patient-controlled analgesia, where the patient is able to self-administer a premeasured dose of pain medicine by pressing a button on a computerized pump.
Trigger Point Injections
When muscles fail to relax, they can form painful knots referred to as trigger points. Trigger point injection is a treatment procedure used to treat these painful muscle knots. The physician uses a small needle to inject local anesthesia and steroids into the trigger point. The treatment causes the trigger point to be made inactive, alleviating pain in the process. It’s a brief course of treatment but it achieves sustained relief.
Trigger points are suitable for treating muscle pain in the legs, arms, neck, and lower back. The treatment procedure has been used in treating fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, and tension headaches. Botox can also be injected to alleviate pain. It works by blocking pain signals from the nerves to the muscles.
Surgical implants can be used to control pain in cases where physical therapy and medicines have failed to offer adequate relief. They are rarely used but they can be very effective. There are two types of surgical implants that can be used to control pain. They include intrathecal drug delivery and spinal cord stimulation implants.
Intrathecal drug delivery also called spinal drug delivery systems or infusion pain pumps, is where a surgeon creates a pocket under the skin that holds a one to three-inch medicine pump. The surgeon then inserts a catheter that will carry the pain medication from the pump to the intrathecal space near the spinal cord, where the pain signal travels. This method delivers significant pain control with a fraction of the dose that’s required with pills. It also has fewer side effects
Spinal Cord Stimulation Implants is where electrical impulses are transmitted to the spinal cord to block pain signals in specific nerves from getting to the brain. The method is used for back and limb pain. The device delivering the electric signals is surgically implanted into the body and remote control is used by the patient to turn it on and off.