January 7, 2019
Pain can be a distressing and disabling experience. It can lead to loss of function and the accompanying disruption of normal life. The impact is not just limited to the sufferings of an individual but also affects one’s loved ones and the society as a whole. It may be easier to adapt if it is for a small finite period, however sometimes it’s challenging to bring things back to the relative normal. Loss of function in one part and adversely affect other body parts such as knee injury leading to developing of back pain as your weight bearing / walking is altered placing extra stress on your back and leading to development of back pain or shoulder pain developing as a result of using crutches for a knee injury. What may start as a small localised issue may progress to involve other body parts, if not managed in time. Effective pain management can help to reduce this impact and help you progress on the path of normality.
Conditions leading to chronic pain range from simple age related body changes to much complex conditions such as spinal cord damage after an accident. Do not underestimate the impact of simple knee or back arthritis as they can easily turn simple activities of daily living into big challenges. While it may not always be possible to reverse these changes, there is a lot we can do to control further damage and reduce the impact on our life.
Keep the hope alive:
Pain Medicine as a specialty had turned around the life of many and has given new hope to many others. Advances in the field of regenerative medicine means that we have lot more to offer now. It’s important to stay positive and not loose hope as most comprehensive management options require active patient participation. Whether that be physiotherapy or life style changes or remaining positive / motivated, patients have a significant role to play.
Pain specialists use a combination of a variety of treatments for the effective management of chronic pain conditions. These start with
- Educating you about your problem and the do’s and don’ts. Do not underestimate the importance of the lifestyle changes and the things you can do to ensure that the problem resolves/ does not aggravate further.
- Medical management may involve a combination of medications, injections, physiotherapy, psychology and alternative medicine options. Often interventions such as injections into the area of problem play an important role in cutting the pain cycle and enabling to engage actively in other therapies such as physiotherapy. Steroids are often used for injections and when given directly close to the site of problem can be very effective. A portion of this does get absorbed into blood stream and reaches other sites but the resultant side effects are much less when compared to taking these orally as tablets.
- Other injection options such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) are considered more natural and create an artificial inflammation promoting the process of healing.
- Nerve blocks involve giving an anesthetic agent+/- steroid close to the nerve carrying the pain sensations to block the sensation from travelling to your brain.
- Options such as Spinal Cord Stimulators (SCS) involve the use of low voltage electrical currents which applied to the spinal cord and they interfere with the transmission of the pain signals to the brain.
- Other than these, there are a variety of alternative therapies options which some individuals find beneficial such as massages, meditation, yoga, acupuncture and chiropractic medicine.
Your treating physician can help you decide on the best treatment for you, by explaining your condition and the evidence base supporting different modalities of treatments.