In recent years, as health care options are expanding and changing, more and more attention is being placed on the topic of pain management. The days of doctors solely treating chronic pain with prescription painkillers and analgesics are relatively gone. Now, there are new methods and techniques for patients. In fact, clinics are opening in most major cities to serve as pain institutes or pain management centers. Here, then, are some of the newest methods for managing chronic pain.
Acupuncture—One of the most promising options for chronic pain patients is actually an ancient form of alternative medicine. Acupuncture is an art form that is almost two thousand years old that originated in China. With acupuncture, a specialist will insert very fine needles, roughly the width of a human hair, into the patient's body at specific points. These needles stimulate the nerve centers of the body and help the patient to produce endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, to help aid in the treatment and blockage of pain receptors.
Biofeedback—One of the more futuristic techniques that has been developed, biofeedback, almost appears as if it came from the pages of a science fiction novel. With biofeedback, patients are connected to a series of sensors and monitors that display bodily rhythms such as heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and temperature. Any changes or alterations in these areas are visible to the patient and can be seen as a potential indicator that the body is experiencing or about to experience pain.
The patient is then shown ways to actively control these functions through relaxation and breathing techniques. By watching how the body responds to the use of these relaxation methods, the patient is able to see just how to better control his or her own body and help them with methods to manage their own pain naturally.
Electrical Stimulation—Another seemingly futuristic pain management alternative is the use of electrical stimulation. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) units are a new tool to ease pain. A TENS unit is used by the patient to block the nerve transmitters that send pain messages to the brain. In effect, they block the brain from realizing that the body is feeling the pain. This is done by attaching electrodes to the area that is affected—the lower back, for instance, of a person suffering from degenerative arthritis in his or her spinal column. These electrodes adhere to the patient's skin and are then connected to a machine that sends out pulses of electricity through the affected body part to help stop the pain.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA)—A final technique in treating chronic and debilitating pain is Radiofrequency Ablation, also sometimes referred to as RFA. RFA has proven quite effective in treating back pain from injuries and arthritis. In this technique, an x-ray is taken to determine the exact placement of the apparatus before the procedure occurs. Once the nerve is identified that is transmitting most of the pain receptors, a needle is inserted and electric waves are then transmitted through the needle to effectively burn out the nerve. This procedure can eliminate pain in the affected area for six months to a year. Some patients have even had permanent easing of their back pain from RFA.
Patients who suffer from severe pain brought on by injuries or debilitating illnesses such as arthritis and fibromyalgia do not have to suffer in silence or take heavy medications that leave them feeling doped up. Instead, they have several options encompassing new science and older alternatives that can help them ease their pain. For more information, contact a clinic such as Illinois Pain Institute.