What a relief: Chronic pain sufferers, take heart. Advances in pain management may offer the breakthrough you’ve been waiting for.
Courtesy Baylor Scott & White
An estimated 116 million Americans suffer from pain—day in and day out. That’s a lot of hurt. Diagnosed as “chronic pain,” pain that lasts more than six months not only affects everyday living but also everything from mood to relationships to job performance.
“Chronic pain can result from a surgery or an injury or present as part of a condition such as arthritis or cancer,” says S. Justin Badiyan, M.D., a physician on the medical staff at a Baylor Scott & White Medical Center. “And sufferers can quickly spiral into depression and inactivity if they don’t get help.”
For a long time, the most common treatment approach was drug therapy—namely opioids like morphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone—to relieve pain. “These drugs can be addictive, dangerous and may ultimately make your pain seem worse,” Dr. Badiyan says. “We now know this isn’t the best long-term approach for most patients.”
Thankfully, advances in pain management offer chronic pain sufferers more options—and better results—than ever before. “Pain management has really evolved over the last decade,” Dr. Badiyan says.
Here are the latest treatment options and how they may be able to spell relief for you.
Newer, non-narcotic drugs.“Antidepressants, anticonvulsants, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and others offer patients relief without the habit-forming properties of opioids,” Dr. Badiyan says.
Nerve blocks. Injections that use radio-frequency waves, steroids or anesthetics can help block the pain signals sent by irritated nerves.
Spinal-cord stimulation. An implantable device is placed in the spinal canal and transmits electrical impulses to the spinal cord to replace pain signals with a pleasant sensation, Dr. Badiyan says.
Complementary therapies. “Treating pain with physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, biofeedback (a device that monitors the body’s response to pain so you can try to control it) or gentle muscle stimulation in combination with other treatments has proven very effective at providing relief,” Dr. Badiyan says.
If you’ve been fighting an uphill battle with chronic pain, talk to a pain management specialist today. “There are many different treatment options that can help decrease your pain, increase your day-to-day functional ability and improve your overall quality of life,” Dr. Badiyan says.
Rid your life of pain. For more information, talk to your primary care physician, visit BSWHealth.com/Pain or call 1-800-4BAYLOR for a referral to a pain management specialist near you.