Medication and Pain Management
When it comes to treating pain, whether chronic or acute, treatment options are as varied as the underlying causes of your discomfort. Treatments for chronic pain can include noninvasive therapies like massage, acupuncture, and lifestyle changes, or more aggressive therapies such as steroid injections, nerve blocks, or surgery. The experts at Balcones Pain Consultants have a broad range of traditional, nontraditional, and new pain therapies for treating pain in any area of the body, resulting from a variety of underlying causes or conditions. The focus at Balcones Pain Consultants is on a compassionate and individualized approach to treating chronic pain.
Medication Options for Pain Treatment
Both non-prescription and prescription drugs can play a significant role in the treatment of chronic pain. Many types of pain can be managed with the use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), opioids, or steroid injections, especially pain from an injury or from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, bursitis, tendinitis, or plantar fasciitis.
Muscle relaxants can play a beneficial role in reducing pain due to certain conditions like tension headaches or back muscle spasms. Antidepressants and anticonvulsant medications can alleviate pain due to conditions like chronic headaches, arthritis, and nerve damage.
When abdominal pain is caused by inflammation, infection, or ulcers, medication may be needed to manage or reverse the symptoms. Certain medications can also be helpful in managing chronic conditions like IBS. Treatment for severe menstrual cramps, especially those caused by endometriosis, might include pain medications as well as supplemental hormone therapy.
Treatment for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease depends on the severity of the condition, and normally includes medication along with dietary changes to address nutritional deficiencies. Treatment for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease may require medications that suppress the immune system’s inflammatory response. These medications provide symptom relief, and allow the intestinal tissue to heal.
Gallstones can sometimes be dissolved with medication, but some people will need gall bladder removal surgery to alleviate gallstone pain.
Medication Options for Shoulder, Elbow, and Wrist Pain Management
Treatment for arm and wrist pain due to carpal tunnel syndrome or De Quervain’s tendinitis is typically a combination of wrist splinting, medications, and lifestyle changes. NSAIDs and corticosteroids can help relieve pain, along with cold packs applied periodically to the pain site.
Pain from shoulder conditions such as rotator cuff injuries and frozen shoulder can be treated with physical therapy, along with NSAIDs, and alternating heat and cold packs. In the case of a dislocated shoulder or elbow, the bones must first be moved back into proper alignment and then the joint must be immobilized. The pain of a dislocated shoulder or elbow can intensify during manipulation of the bones; for this reason, muscle relaxants, pain medication, or sedatives may be used while correcting the alignment.
The pain of a dislocated joint should greatly reduce once the alignment has been completed. After a period of immobilization and once the joint has had time to begin the healing process, physical therapy is an important part of restoring full range of motion. Further use of pain medications or muscle relaxations may also be necessary throughout the healing process.
Medication Options for Treating Other Arm Pain
Pain from reflex sympathetic dystrophy (also referred to as chronic regional pain syndrome) can be treated with rehabilitative exercise programs along with drugs like NSAIDs, opioids, or corticosteroids. Topical anesthetic creams and patches can also be part of an effective treatment regimen for this condition, as well as measures to address the emotional components of the condition, such as stress, anxiety, or depression.
Pain and stiffness resulting from an arm sprain or a fracture can be treated with a variety of methods. The combination of pain medications, especially NSAIDs, along with ice applications and a cast, bandage, or splint can greatly reduce pain after an injury of this type. Some people continue experiencing chronic pain following an arm injury, however, even after the tissues or bone fracture has healed. In this case, longer-term arm pain treatment might include physical therapy, medications, and exercises. Treatment of chronic arm pain following an injury might also include injections, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or nerve blocks.
Medication Options for the Treatment of Back Pain
Medications other than pain reducers can also help in the treatment of back pain. Muscle relaxants, for example, might be prescribed for back pain due to muscle spasms, while antidepressants can sometimes alleviate back pain related to nerve damage or arthritis.
Advanced Treatments for Pain Management
Back pain due to nerve damage, arthritis, or injury can also be treated with radiofrequency thermocoagulation. Also called radiofrequency neurotomy, this is a method of interrupting pain signals by heating a small area of nerve tissue with radiofrequency current.
An Intrathecal Pump Implant can help relieve chronic pain by delivering small amounts of medicine directly to the area around the spinal cord (the intrathecal space) via a catheter. After a trial procedure to ensure that the patient experiences improvement, the surgeon implants a permanent catheter and pump under the skin, most commonly in the abdomen. The intrathecal pump implant is programmed via an external unit, and the patient must visit the doctor to refill the unit. The pump will need to be replaced at the end of its battery life, generally three to five years.