If you suffer from acute or chronic pain, you know that you need to find an effective way to manage it in order to go about your daily life. Simple things like working, supporting a family, maintaining healthy relationships, and keeping your mental health depend on a good pain routine.
Pain medications are usually the first line of defense, but they are not the only place you can look for relief. Don't be afraid to look into alternative pain management methods. Here are some innovative options to discuss with your doctor.
This pain management technique works by blocking nerve pathways that might be contributing to pain. Basically, a doctor can selectively freeze targeted nerves to prevent them from firing. During the healing process, this could potentially decrease chronic pain over time. The nerve damage from freezing promotes the nerve to heal itself. In healing from the freezing, the trigger that causes the chronic pain can sometimes also be improved. If the source of your pain is known and is caused by nerve damage, you might be a good candidate for cryoanalgesia. This treatment, of course, is not a cure-all for every type of chronic pain. Freezing cells in the body can cause structural damage and nerve damage that is not reversible, which is why this treatment is only for certain conditions and pain types.
TENS treatment, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation treatment, helps to relieve pain through the use of low-voltage electricity. Nerves are the conductors of pain signals in your body, and chronic pain can occur when these nerves will not stop sending a signal back to the brain, even after physical injuries have healed as best they can.
TENS works by connecting two or more electrodes to your skin to send small electrical pulses through the affected area. These pulses overwhelm the nervous response (nerves work by conducting electrical pulses through a series of ionic transitions along the axon). When the nerve is "drowned out" with the TENS, it cannot send the message of pain. Muscles that are tight may become loosened as a result, and you may find yourself more able to relax, promoting better healing in the future.
RFA is a good treatment for spine, back, and arthritis pain. It works, like other therapies, by targeting problem nerves. Instead of freezing or electrical impulses, however, the nerve is heated with radio waves, and pain stimulation goes down. The good thing about RFA is that one treatment can have months of pain-relieving effect. It's also low risk, as there will be no increased nerve damage or surrounding tissue damage.
The procedure itself is minimally invasive, but you will need local anesthesia because working with nerves can be very painful for the patient during the procedure. Using a needle, the doctor will place a tiny electrode near the intended nerve, and then begin sending the radio pulses through. You may have some tenderness and swelling in the area directly following the procedure, as well as some numbness in your extremities, but then you will have many weeks of pain-free activity in the treated area.
RFA is only good for some types of pain. It is also not suitable for all patients. For example, those with compromised immune systems or active infections might not be able to get RFA.
Living with pain can be a major challenge, but you can seek out targeted, specific treatments to help, especially if you are concerned about using medications long term. Consult a pain clininc in your area about alternative treatments to see which one might work for your pain.