Pain relief is one of the top concerns with patients and physicians alike. With doctors wary of prescribing opioid pain relief and patients taking more ownership of their treatment methods, it’s important to keep a keen eye on trends in pain management options. If you’re involved in the medical field, or are a patient looking for a better way to manage your pain, take a look at this year’s trends.
Electrical Stimulation Devices
Electrical stimulation therapy is growing to be one of the most effective ways to ease muscle pain. These devices are non-addictive alternatives to narcotic painkillers and are able to reduce pain in most patients, sometimes up to 80%. For example, the Neuro-Stim System (NSS) is an FDA-cleared auricular peripheral nerve field stimulator designed to provide low-frequency electrical impulses that are transmitted to the connected nerves. The low-frequency impulses reduce the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, reducing inflammation and improving blood flow and oxygenation to the tissue. The results are reduced pain for the long-term with no narcotic side effects.
Spinal cord stimulation offers pain relief for chronic back pain, leg, foot, or knee pain that has not responded to other interventions such as medication, physical therapy, or injections. The spinal cord stimulator is a very small battery powered device, like a pacemaker, which is inserted under the skin. This relatively less invasive surgical procedure allows patients to control their own pain relief via electrodes implanted to stimulate the nerves above the epidural space in the spinal cord.
Stem Cell Procedures
Biological solutions – the use of stem cells and platelet-rich plasma – are some of the most exciting trends in pain management. Doctors will extract and then reinject your own cells directly into the injured or painful area. Those cells then stimulate those tissues to help them heal injuries to discs, nerves and other parts of the body.
Because they are non-invasive, both stem cell and PRP therapies are excellent treatment options for patients who may not be candidates for surgery, or who may prefer to try a more conservative, low-risk treatment.
Doctors and patients have been increasingly interested in the mind-body connection of pain management. Patients suffering with chronic pain such as fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis, for instance, often find that exercise doesn’t simply improve fitness; it promotes mental well-being. The endorphins released from physical activity has also the added benefit of decreasing daily pain.
Patients have been known to take yoga or Pilates classes and learn how to meditate. Some primary care centers also have chiropractors and physical therapists on-site to offer treatments designed to align and ease the parts of the body. The belief is that a proper spinal alignment and muscle relaxation will reduce pain in certain cases.
Lumbar Spinal Stenosis (LSS) is a degenerative condition of the lumbar spine where the soft tissue, or “discs,” between vertebrae become worn down, causing the spinal canal to narrow which can put pressure on the nerves in the lower back. This pressure can lead to radiating leg, buttock, and/or groin pain. LSS was developed to treat those patients who suffer from moderate degenerative LSS. This device acts as an extension blocker, allowing the spinal canal to stay extended when standing and relieves pressure on those affected nerves.
We are constantly staying on top of pain management trends to ensure you receive the most effective and efficient pain relief. If you’re interested in learning more about our pain management option, contact us. Balcones Pain Consultants in the Austin area offers caring and experienced pain management. Our pain specialists include board-certified surgeons who see every patient on their first visit. Call (512) 834-4141 for an appointment at one of our convenient locations today. We see patients in Austin, Cedar Park, and Marble Falls.