Exercise Helps Manage Hip Arthritis Pain


(Reuters Health) – Water- or land-based exercise should provide some short-term benefit in pain management for hip osteoarthritis, though there are few well-designed trials testing it, according to a new review.

Americans develop three million new cases of osteoarthritis each year. Most vulnerable are those who are older, obese, have previous joint injuries, overuse, weak muscles or genetic risk factors.

“It is nice to finally have some hip-specific data, as hip and knee osteoarthritis are often grouped together and it is almost certain that there are differences between these groups of patients, as well as differences in those with multiple joint osteoarthritis,” said Dr. Amanda E. Nelson of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center at the University of North Carolina Medical Center in Chapel Hill, who was not part of the new study.

“However, the studies are still small and heterogeneous, and larger, longer-term studies of more specific interventions are certainly needed to provide more specific recommendations,” she said.

The review only considered pain, not joint function, which may also improve with physical activity, Nelson told Reuters Health by email.

The researchers, lead by Kay M. Crossley of La Trobe University in Bundoora, Australia, reviewed 19 studies of water-based or land-based exercise therapy or manual therapy for hip pain, 10 of which were designed specifically for hip osteoarthritis.

Four studies found short-term benefits, up to three months later, with water-based exercise compared to minimal pain management. Six found similar benefit for land-based exercise therapy in the short term, but there was no evidence for benefit in the medium or long term, up to one year after therapy.


Manual therapy, which includes joint manipulation, active stretching and massage, did not appear to provide additional benefit on its own or in combination with exercise, the researchers reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

That’s not encouraging, said Dr. Kim Bennell of The University of Melbourne in Australia, who was also not part of the review. “However, the number of studies is relatively small and there was a lot of variation in the methods of the studies, so further research is needed in this area to confirm the results.”

Most doctors do not recommend exercise therapy, relying instead on pain-relieving drugs for osteoarthritis, despite agreement across guidelines and organizations that non-drug approaches are worthwhile, Nelson said.

“There are numerous potential barriers to recommendation and treatment including access to care, financial concerns, and the burden of managing multiple medical conditions in a short visit with a provider, among others,” she said. “Therefore, although the guidelines are in agreement, it is likely that the majority of patients are not receiving this recommendation from their providers, and that even fewer actually follow through on the recommendation if given.”

The 19 studies in the review all tested different type, frequency and duration of exercise, so the best sort of exercise, how much and how often to do it, remains to be determined, she said.

It would appear that a 12-week program with exercises generally including strengthening and range of motion three times per week is beneficial, Bennell told Reuters Health by email.

“Based on the overall body of work in physical activity, though, any regular physical activity is likely to be beneficial to most patients,” Nelson said. “It is safe to say that most adults do not get enough physical activity, and that this is even more of an issue among those with osteoarthritis.”

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1Z1OiCu British Journal of Sports Medicine, online November 26, 2015.

Original Article HERE

Researchers Find A Simple Daily Practice Can Control Pain Better Than A Placebo


An article from our friends at A Plus:

A true example of mind over matter.

Meditation has shown that the human mind is a powerful thing. Through focused thought, humans have been able to improve their concentration, promote mental well-being, and encourage various aspects of physical health as well.

Some of these assertions, however, have been dismissed as a placebo effect rather than actually being effective. A new study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., has put this to the test by pitting mindfulness meditation against a placebo. The results unequivocally showed that meditation came out on top for pain management. The results were published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

The placebo effect is a fascinating — though little-understood — phenomenon in which a person can actually improve their condition as long as they think they’re getting treatment. Pseudomedications that have no active ingredients are given to subjects who believe they’re taking an actual drug. Once they believe that they are supposed to feel better, some actually see an improvement in their symptoms.

“We were completely surprised by the findings,” lead researcher Fadel Zeidan explained in a statement. “While we thought that there would be some overlap in brain regions between meditation and placebo, the findings from this study provide novel and objective evidence that mindfulness meditation reduces pain in a unique fashion.”

Participants in the study were separated into four groups: mindfulness meditation, placebo meditation, placebo topical cream, and the control, which did not receive treatment. Mindfulness meditation is characterized by sitting still and focusing exclusively on one’s breathing. Though it is difficult to only think about breathing at first, it becomes easier with practice. In this study, this meditation was performed four times a day for 20 minutes per session.

Next, each of the participants was subjected to a painful stimulus (in this case, a probe heated to 120 degrees Fahrenheit) and asked to rate their pain. In order to keep the results from being completely subjective, brain scans were done using an MRI.


Interestingly, those who practiced mindfulness meditation experienced more than double the pain relief compared to those who used the placebo ointment, and the decrease of emotional response to the pain was nearly tripled as well.

“This study is the first to show that mindfulness meditation is mechanistically distinct and produces pain relief above and beyond the analgesic effects seen with either placebo cream or sham meditation,” Zeidan continued.

The results of this study are very interesting and a testament to not only the prowess of the human brain, but also how much we have left to learn about how these processes work.

The researchers acknowledge that one of the limitations on the study is that all of the participants are ordinarily pain-free. Hopefully future studies will explore how meditation compares to placebo for those who suffer from chronic pain.

Original Article HERE

Nine Things To Know About Stem Cell Treatments


Many clinics offering stem cell treatments make claims that are not supported by a current understanding of science.

Disclaimer: This article was originally published on The International Society for Stem Cell Research’s (ISSCR) Website

Stem cells have tremendous promise to help us understand and treat a range of diseases, injuries and other health-related conditions. Their potential is evident in the use of blood stem cells to treat diseases of the blood, a therapy that has saved the lives of thousands of children with leukemia; and can be seen in the use of stem cells for tissue grafts to treat diseases or injury to the bone, skin and surface of the eye. Important clinical trials involving stem cells are underway for many other conditions and researchers continue to explore new avenues using stem cells in medicine.

There is still a lot to learn about stem cells, however, and their current applications as treatments are sometimes exaggerated by the media and other parties who do not fully understand the science and current limitations, and also by “clinics” looking to capitalize on the hype by selling treatments to chronically ill or seriously injured patients. The information on this page is intended to help you understand both the potential and the limitations of stem cells at this point in time, and to help you spot some of the misinformation that is widely circulated by clinics offering unproven treatments.

It is important to discuss these Nine Things to Know and any research or information you gather with your primary care physician and other trusted members of your healthcare team in deciding what is right for you.

1. Currently, very few stem cell treatments have been proven safe and effective

The list of diseases for which stem cell treatments have been shown to be beneficial is still very short. The best-defined and most extensively used stem cell treatment is hematopoietic (or blood) stem cell transplantation, for example, bone marrow transplantation, to treat certain blood and immune system disorders or to rebuild the blood system after treatments for some kinds of cancer.

Some bone, skin and corneal (eye) injuries and diseases can be treated by grafting or implanting tissues, and the healing process relies on stem cells within this implanted tissue. These procedures are widely accepted as safe and effective by the medical community. All other applications of stem cells are yet to be proven in clinical trials and should be considered highly experimental.

Beware of stem cell treatments offered without regulatory approval or outside the confines of a legitimate and registered clinical trial.

2. There is something to lose when you try an unproven treatment

When there is no existing or effective treatment for a disease or condition, it is easy to understand why you may feel there is nothing to lose from trying something new, even if it isn’t proven. Unfortunately, most of the unproven stem cell treatments for sale throughout the world carry very little promise of actual benefit and very real risks:

  • Complications may create new short- and long-term health problems, and/or may make your condition or symptoms more difficult to manage
  • Receipt of one unproven or experimental treatment may make you ineligible for future clinical trials or treatment options
  • Out-of-pocket expenses could be enormous. In addition to treatment costs, there may be accommodation charges or other fees. In most cases, insurance companies and government health programs do not cover the cost of experimental treatments
  • If travel is involved, there are additional considerations, including time away from friends and family

Before you decide whether to pursue an unproven or experimental treatment, carefully assess the treatment you are considering. Weigh the risks and potential benefits. Get input from your loved ones and from your healthcare team; they may provide insight you haven’t thought of.

Unproven treatments present serious health, personal and financial considerations. Consider what might be lost and discuss these risks with your family and healthcare providers.

3. Different types of stem cells serve different purposes in the body

Different types of stem cells come from different places in your body and have different functions. Learn more about various types of stem cells here.

Scientists are exploring the different roles tissue-specific stem cells might play in healing, with the understanding that these stem cells have specific and limited capabilities. Without manipulation in the lab, tissue-specific stem cells can only generate the other cell types found in the tissues where they live. For example, the blood-forming (hematopoietic) stem cells found in bone marrow regenerate the cells in blood, while neural stem cells in the brain make brain cells. A hematopoietic stem cell won’t spontaneously make a brain cell and vice versa. Thus, it is unlikely that a single cell type can be used to treat a multitude of unrelated diseases involving different tissues or organs.

Be wary of clinics offering treatments with stem cells originating from a part of your body unrelated to your disease or condition.

4. The same stem cell treatment is unlikely to work for different diseases or conditions

Because stem cells that are specific to certain tissues cannot make cells found in other tissues without careful manipulation in the lab, it is very unlikely that the same stem cell treatment will work for diseases affecting different tissues and organs within the body.

Scientists have learned to make certain specialized cell types through a multi-step processes using pluripotent stem cells, that is embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. These cells have the potential to form all the different cell types in the body and offer an exciting opportunity to develop new treatment strategies. Embryonic stem cells and iPS cells, however, are not good candidates to be used directly as treatments, as they require careful instruction to become the specific cells needed to regenerate diseased or damaged tissue. If not properly directed, these stem cells may overgrow and cause tumors when injected into the patient.

View clinics that offer the same cell treatment for a wide variety of conditions or diseases with extreme caution. Be wary of claims that stem cells will somehow just know where to go and what to do to treat a specific condition.

5. The science behind a disease should match the science behind the treatment

The more you know about the causes and effects of your disease, the better armed you are to identify your best treatment options. If you have a certain type of blood cancer, for example, transplantation with blood-forming stem cells makes sense, as the treatment requires those specific cells to do exactly what they are designed to do. If you have diabetes, receiving a blood-forming stem cell treatment doesn’t make sense, because the problem is in the pancreas rather than in the blood itself. Without significant and careful manipulation in the lab, tissue-specific stem cells do not generate cell types found outside of their home tissues.

Your best protection against clinics selling unproven stem cell treatments is an understanding of the science behind your disease, injury or condition.

6. Cells from your own body are not automatically safe when used in treatments

In theory, your immune system would not attack your own cells if they were used in a transplant. The use of a patient’s own cells is called an autologous transplant. However, the processes by which the cells were acquired, grown and then reintroduced into the body would carry risks. Here are just a few known risks of autologous stem cell treatments:

  • Any time cells are removed from your body, there is a risk they may be contaminated with viruses, bacteria or other pathogens that could cause disease when reintroduced
  • Manipulation of cells by a clinic may interfere with their normal function, including those that control cell growth
  • How and where the cells are put back into your body matters, and some clinics inject cells into places where they are not normally present and do not belong

Every medical procedure carries risk; be wary of clinics that gloss over or minimize the risks associated with their treatments.

7. Patient testimonials and other marketing provided by clinics may be misleading

It can be hard to tell the difference between doctors conducting responsible clinical trials and clinics selling unproven treatments. One common differentiator is the way a treatment is marketed. Most specialized doctors receive patient referrals, while clinics selling stem cell treatments tend to market directly to patients, often through persuasive language on the Internet, Facebook and in newspaper advertisements.

Clinics peddling unproven stem cell treatments frequently overstate the benefits of their offerings and use patient testimonials to support their claims. These testimonials can be intentionally or unintentionally misleading. For example, a person may feel better immediately after receiving a treatment, but the perceived or actual improvement may be due to other factors, such as an intense belief that the treatment will work, auxiliary treatments accompanying the main treatment, healthy lifestyle changes adapted in conjunction with the treatment and natural fluctuations in the disease or condition. These factors are complex and difficult to measure objectively outside the boundaries of carefully designed clinical trials. Learn more about why we need to perform clinical trials here.

Beware of clinics that use persuasive language, including patient testimonials, on the Internet, Facebook and newspapers, to market their treatments, instead of science-based evidence.

8. An experimental treatment offered for sale is not the same as a clinical trial

The fact that a procedure is experimental does not automatically mean that it is part of a research study or clinical trial. Responsible clinical trials share several important features:

  • They build upon their own preclinical data, lab-based research on cells, tissues and animals, that indicates the treatment being tested is likely to be safe and effective
  • Oversight by an independent medical ethics committee to protect participants’ rights
  • Conformity to regulatory requirements, including a listing in a recognized clinical trial registry
  • A structure designed to answer specific questions about a new treatment or a new way of using current treatments (results are usually compared with a control group of patients who do not receive the experimental treatment)
  • The cost of the new treatment and monitoring is not covered by the participant

Responsibly-conducted clinical trials are critical to the development of new treatments. Learn more about clinical trials here.

Beware of expensive treatments that have not passed successfully through clinical trials.

9. The process by which science becomes medicine is designed to minimize harm and maximize effectiveness

There is a lengthy, multi-step process involved in responsibly translating science into safe and effective medical treatments. During this process, scientists may discover that an approach that seemed promising in the lab, does not work in animals, or that an approach that worked in animals, does not work in humans. They may discover that a treatment effectively addresses symptoms of a disease or injury in humans, but that it carries unacceptable risks. Scientists carefully review and replicate their work, and invite their peers to do the same. This process by which science becomes medicine is often long, but it is designed to minimize patient harm and to maximize the likelihood of effectiveness. Learn more about how science becomes medicine here.

Beware of clinics that circumvent the accepted process by which science becomes medicine.

‘Like an orchestra’: Pain management moving toward holistic approach


Logan resident Dawn Carter’s life changed in January 2015 following an accidental fall down a flight of stairs.

Originally diagnosed with just a concussion, complications from the injury now cause Carter to experience chronic nerve pain and migraines, in addition to seizures and memory loss.

“There is really nothing (my doctors) can do about my pain,” Carter said. “It hurts so bad (that) I feel like an electric eel is swimming throughout my body. It mainly starts in my wrist and works up my arms, up to my shoulders and down to my back.”

According to data gathered by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain conditions, affecting more people than coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined.

Fortunately, treatment options for both chronic and acute forms of pain have evolved from the over-simplified, pharmaceutical heavy days of the 1970s, said Dr. Brian Richardson, who specializes in pain management at Logan’s Southwest Spine and Pain Center.

As pain management evolves, so too does the form it takes. The new standard of care in pain management is that of the holistic approach, or the treatment of a patient’s pain with the combined help of general practitioners, physical therapists and psychologists.

“The way I like to describe treatment to my patients is that it’s like an orchestra,” Richardson said. “Say you’re watching “Les Miserables” live onstage, but the only instrument in the score is a trombone. Alone, that might not be very pleasant. But if you’ve got cellos, violins, saxophones and clarinets, it’s going to sound a lot better and be a much more pleasant experience. It’s the same concept with pain management. Now, we’re using multiple tools to help diagnose, address and fix a problem.”

The physical, mental, social approach


Physical therapist Swen Sandberg, who has been rehabilitating outpatients through Intermountain Healthcare at Logan Regional Hospital since 2013, said pain management has been working towards the “biopsychosocial” model of treatment over the past few years.

Often abbreviated as BPS, the approach gives equal weight to the physical, mental and social aspects of any given disease.

Sandberg said research studies have shown the effectiveness of the BPS style, with patients showing better recovery results when cared for holistically instead of by a single entity. The results are shifting the way pain management is being approached and introducing an increase in collaboration between medical professionals.

Sandberg predicted that within 10 years, insurance companies will start to provide better reimbursement to patients that are exploring the holistic style of care as opposed to consulting with just a single medical professional.

“The research is backing it up,” Sandberg explained. “It’s the model that Intermountain Healthcare is working towards as well. You can see that it’s the direction that health care is going.”

Richardson said although collaboration with other doctors may sometimes be challenging to coordinate because of varying schedules, he echoed that the increase of experience and evidence confirms it as the new medical standard for pain treatments.

“Not only is the approach important, but it’s absolutely critical,” Richardson said of his regular communication with other doctors. “It’s no longer just giving patients a painkiller. When you look at one modality versus someone also using physical therapy and working through coping skills with a psychologist, that type of multi-modal approach has by far and away been proven to be the most successful.”

Restoring function

Richardson said one of the most common misconceptions regarding treatment for pain is the assumption that doctors will simply prescribe pain medication, but medication isn’t the core of treatment. Instead, the focus lies first on diagnosing the problem itself and then exploring ways to restore function in pained areas.

“Communication with the patient about what the goal is for treatment is before we begin,” Richardson said. “From there, we can manage expectations and work together on the same page.”

While short-term pain relief may be a priority depending on the needs of the individual patient, not all patients may need to be prescribed medication depending on their treatment plan. Richardson used the example of an 80-year-old woman slipping in her bathtub and suffering a compression fracture. In this case, a low dose analgesic may be prescribed to help relax the pain, but the patient would receive an MRI and a back brace first, while also meeting with a physical therapist. A procedure may be recommended if the fracture doesn’t heal naturally from there.

However, if pain medication is in the best interests of the patient, Richardson said enough is prescribed to meet the patient’s needs.

Every 30 days, Richardson would meet with the patient to determine how the treatment is progressing before processing a refill on any prescription.

“It’s rare that you have people with legitimate pain problems that don’t stick with the prescribed regimen,” Richardson explained. “It’s much more common to see people that want to get better.”

Sandberg, the physical therapist, said treatment is on a spectrum between restoring function and pain control. Working towards one end may be able to provide for a solution on the other end, however.

“Very rarely does a patient present without some form of pain,” Sandberg explained. “As therapists, what we do is try to address what’s causing the pain. Sometimes, unless you reduce stress on the joint or the structure, it won’t get better no matter how many pills you take. But other times if we can reduce the pain enough, we can work towards ways to restore that function.”

Sandberg said that many of his patients are on some form of pain medication, but the majority of his modalities aren’t related to pain medication. Instead, he may use ultrasounds or electrical stimulation on the affected areas to retrain the nerves to induce a proper pain response, or provide stretching or traction to joints and tendons to invoke chemical responses that help to relieve the pain.

Sometimes, techniques as simple as changing posture can help relieve pain without turning to medication.

Ending the stigma

Both Sandberg and Richardson acknowledge that there is a certain stigma surrounding chronic pain conditions that may cause patients to not enter treatment. For some, it may be a case of affordability, although Sandberg said that many physical therapy patients may be able to seek treatment for low or no cost regardless of their insurance status. For others, it may be a doubt that doctors really believe their claims of pain.

“Anybody would be frustrated if they got the response, ‘There’s nothing wrong with you,’” Sandberg said. “Sometimes there is a stigma that you may be faking it, but for doctors that notion is completely unacceptable. That can’t exist in the medical community. Pain is taken at face value. Just because there isn’t visible damage now doesn’t mean that there wasn’t damage at some point.”

Richardson said advances in pain management clinics over the past 15 years alone are countering the old notions of simply receiving pain pills.

“We’re committed to finding out what is causing pain and why,” Richardson said. “It can sometimes be a challenge, but once they come through the door and realize what we’re trying to accomplish, that perception changes rapidly.”

Acute vs. chronic pain

Pain takes many forms, which means that professionals like Richardson and Sandberg treat patients on an individual basis to best suit their needs.

“Sometimes the pain is an acute pain, which is here and now,” Richardson said. “For example, you may have a patient who has tweaked their spine tossing a bale of hay and now has nerve pain. If we can treat these conditions quickly enough, we may be able to phase out that pain completely. But with chronic conditions, expectations may need to be reevaluated. Sometimes pain just can’t be cured — there may not be one thing to fix that will stop it from coming back.”

For chronic patients, the involvement of a psychologist can be beneficial, helping patients to learn effective coping strategies regarding the control of their pain. In the cases of psychosomatic pain, which is pain that is caused by the brain’s misinterpretations of nervous system responses, psychologists can also help to reduce the pain or eliminate it entirely.

Sandberg said chronic pain is often the result of a previous injury where the problem is a maladaptive nerve response instead of lingering damage, in which the nerves are unable to register pain in the correct fashion.

“These people may still be in pain because their nervous system hasn’t been able to register the pain response appropriately,” he explained. “To help, we retrain the nervous system through modalities like exercise or electrical stimulation.”

Sandberg said his first sessions with chronic pain patients are often educational, defining the difference between acceptable levels of pain and non-acceptable ones.

“For many, pain is associated with discomfort,” he said. “But there can be different levels of pain that can be improved upon through therapy. For chronic pain patients, the pain may never completely improve, but the function can make progress.”

Exploring alternatives

Aside from the patient’s prescribed regimen, some patients may also choose to supplement their care with other forms of therapy. Richardson said it isn’t uncommon for patients to ask about options such as chiropractic care, massage therapy and acupuncture. Richardson said he encourages proactivity in his patients, noting it as a sign of the patient’s desire to reach to the heart of the problem.

“If someone is willing to explore other functions in addition to their treatment, that means they’re obviously interested in getting better,” he said.

Sandberg said these alternative care options should be weighed on a cost-to-benefit ratio.

“Is it worth the cost? Does it help, or do you feel like it helps?” he said. “Things like herbal medicine or foot zoning may not have as much evidence that they’re helpful, but if the patient is feeling better, we never discourage that. The mind is a powerful thing when it comes to pain control. If you believe that it’s helpful, then it’s helpful.”

Sandberg also encourages patients to explore the options as long as it doesn’t conflict with their current treatment.

“I think proactive searching is important,” he said. “It shows good coping skills. Those patients seem to do really well. If I have a patient that comes in and hasn’t tried anything on their own, I might refer them to a psychologist.”

Original Article Here by Clayton Gefre

Pain Awareness Month: More Questions Than Answers?


An Article From The HuffPost Healthy Living:

According to the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA), September was anointed Pain Awareness Month in 2001 “to raise awareness in the issue of pain and pain management,” with a goal of creating “greater understanding among health care individuals, individuals and families who are struggling with pain management, the business community, legislators, and the general public that pain is a serious public health issue.” I think it is safe to say that over the last 14 years a lot of success has been achieved in building awareness about chronic pain and the enormous shadow it casts on the lives of patients, their families, and communities. Greater public awareness has come through the hard work of many activists and organizations like the ACPA, but unfortunately, a lot of the publicity surrounding pain over the last few years has come about over concerns surrounding the use, misuse, and abuse of prescription pain killers.

In 2015, we need a lot more than awareness. What we really need are tangible, measurable, and impactful solutions for millions of Americans who are hurting and suffering. Unfortunately, for health care providers and their patients, when it comes to pain treatment, there are often more questions than answers. If there is one lesson we have learned over the last 14 years, it is that we won’t solve America’s pain crisis by just throwing more drugs at it.

Male Patient Visiting Doctor's Office With Back Ache

Perhaps no health problem in America is in bigger need of an infusion of quality care right now than the treatment of pain. With an estimated annual cost of around $600 billion in treatment and lost productivity, we spend more on pain than we do treating cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, but we don’t seem to be getting a great return on our investments. The burden of chronic pain on our medical and disability systems remains high and unfortunately only seems to be getting worse.

Alarmed by our country’s struggles to effectively treat pain, Congress mandated for a study to take place, and in 2010 the National Institute of Health contracted with the Institute of Medicine to perform a comprehensive assessment with recommendations. The Institute’s 2011 eye opening results brought to light the enormity of the problem as well as the lack of consistently good answers for treatment. The study authors called for a “cultural transformation” in how our country goes about studying, assessing and treating pain.

More recently a follow up report has been released, titled the National Pain Strategy, released by the Interagency Pain Relief Coordinating Committee (IPRCC) at the charge of the Assistant Secretary for Health which falls under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
While the National Pain Strategy is bold in its scope and may seem overwhelming to those in the trenches who treat pain, it offers promise and hope for an estimated 100 million Americans struggling with pain on a regular basis. The report is lengthy and comprehensive, and it raises many good discussion points for patients, doctors, and insurance companies. The full report can be found here.

Here are a few key take home points worth highlighting:

• The report introduces the concept of high-impact chronic pain. While a large proportion of the population may experience some level of daily pain, a certain subset experiences pain to the degree that they can’t function well at work or at home, and even their ability to interact with others is limited. This high-impact group would be expected to require a considerable amount of assistance and treatment. Being able to better identify this group may help streamline the delivery of effective treatment.
• The importance of a more comprehensive, integrated, and interdisciplinary model of care is made clear throughout the report. The committee recognizes that a major lack of access to such programs along with our concurrent over-dependence on more unimodal therapies like pharmaceuticals and risky invasive treatments is a huge problem that must be addressed. They rightfully point out that a major barrier to providing more comprehensive treatments is a lack of necessary insurance coverage and its dependence on the old fee for service payment system. Physician behavior can’t change without an economic system in place to facilitate providing better care to patients.
• The committee wants to emphasize the need for self-management programs. We know that coming up with ways to help pain patients learn valuable tools to effectively self-manage their pain improves their quality of life, reduces pain, and lightens the load on healthcare and disability systems. Making this an important feature of better pain management across the country is an excellent idea.
• The report also brings up the concept of prevention at a number of different levels. This includes studying ways to prevent injuries or diseases from happening in the first place, as well as designing strategies to curtail acute pain problems from progressing into chronic ones.
• The role of the primary care physician also gets a lot of attention. Many simply don’t have the training and expertise to assess more complex chronic pain problems, nor do they typically have the resources at their disposal to provide effective treatment. Primary care doctors need a lot of help and support to better serve their patients in pain.

Creating wholesale changes in the way thousands of doctors interact with millions of patients is no small feat. But as the National Pain Strategy points out, we have a moral obligation to do this better.

Article by:  Original Post HEREChronic pain specialist, author, radio host

It Might be Time to Review Your Pain Relieving Medication

Many people who suffer from arthritis or other painful chronic conditions make a dose of a pain-relieving medication part of their daily routines.

But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month decided to strengthen the warning labels on some common drugs taken for such conditions to warn consumers that the drugs can increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

What does the FDA’s action on nonaspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) mean to you?

First, there is no need to panic, says Dr. Ronald Hedger, assistant dean of clinical skills training at Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine.

And, second, this would be a good time to talk with your doctor about your own pain management and drug-taking regimen to make sure you are not taking more of the drugs than you need.

The drugs involved in the FDA’s action include ibuprofen (over-the-counter brand names include Motrin and Advil) and naproxen (over-the-counter brand names include Aleve).

The FDA says the risks of heart attack and stroke associated with taking NSAIDs were first noted for consumers in 2005. More recently, the agency says a review of research prompted it to revise the drugs’ labeling to strengthen the warning that taking the drugs can lead to heart attacks or strokes and to offer consumers more detailed information about those risks.

Studies indicate that “if you stay within a 1,200 (milligram) or less range per day, your risk is relatively low,” Hedger says. “So basically, somebody that takes two over-the-counter ibuprofen or an Aleve once a day for arthritis is well within the safety range, with the asterisk that (stroke or heart attack) still could happen. It still increases your risk. But it tends to be (more for) people taking a higher quantity over a longer period of time.”

Patients and their health care providers “have to look at benefit versus risk,” Hedger says. “In other words, if (patients) can’t function from day to day without using it, they can’t just stop, but they need to be more aware of how they take it and of any symptoms.”

Hedger’s advice: Read the literature and labels that come with your medicine and talk with your physician or health care provider about what you’re taking, how much of it you’re taking and whether other options may exist.

Original Article HERE

5 Questions About Treatment Options for Chronic Pain


1. What general options do I have to treat my pain?

There are a variety of options for the treatment of chronic pain. Under the general category of medications, there are both oral and topical therapies for the treatment of chronic pain. Oral medications include those that can be taken by mouth, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, and opioids. Also available are medications that can be applied to the skin, whether as an ointment or cream or by a patch that is applied to the skin. Some of these patches work by being placed directly on top of the painful area where the active drug, such as lidocaine, is released. Others, such as fentanyl patches, may be placed at a location far from the painful area. Some medications are available over the-counter (OTC) while others may require a prescription.

There are many things that may help with your pain which do not involve medications. These things may help relieve some pain and reduce the medications required to control your pain. Examples include exercises, best performed under the direction of a physical therapist. There are also alternative modalities, such as acupuncture. Transcutaneous Electro-Nerve Stimulator (TENS) units use pads that are placed on your skin to provide stimulation around the area of pain and may help to reduce some types of pain symptoms.

Finally, there are interventional techniques that involve injections into or around various levels of the spinal region. These can involve relatively superficial injections into the painful muscles, called trigger point injections, or may involve more invasive procedures. There are multiple procedures that range from epidural injections for pain involving the neck and arm or the back and leg, facet injections into the joints that allow movement of the neck and back to injections for burning pain of the arms or legs due to a syndrome called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (CRPS).

2. What are some of the typical medications used for the treatment of chronic pain? What are some of the common side effects associated with these medications?

There are several categories of medications that are used for the treatment of chronic pain. In general, your primary physician, patient management specialist, or pharmacist may be to answer any questions about the dosage and side effects from these medications. The most commonly used medications can be divided into the following broad categories:

  1. Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs and Acetaminophen: There are many different types of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), some of them (such as ibuprofen) may be obtained over-the-counter. NSAIDs can be very effective for acute muscular and bone pain as well as some types of chronic pain syndromes. When taken for an extended period of time or in large quantities, they may have negative effects on the kidneys, clotting of blood, and gastrointestinal system. Bleeding ulcers is a risk of these medications. Long-term use of cyclooxygenase II (COX II) inhibitors may be associated with an increase in cardiovascular (heart) risks. Acetaminophen is easily obtained over-the-counter, however, care should be taken not to take more than 4000 mg in 24 hours; otherwise, several liver failure may occur. There are some opioid medications that combine acetaminophen within the medication. You should be aware that many over-the-counter medications have acetaminophen as one of their ingredients and when taken in combination with prescribed medication, this may result in an overdose of acetaminophen.
  2. Antidepresssants: Some of the older categories of antidepressants may be very helpful in controlling pain; specifically the tricyclic antidepressants. The pain relieving properties of these medications are such that they can relieve pain in doses that are lower than the doses needed to treat depression. These medications are not meant to be taken on an “as needed” basis but must be taken every day whether or not you have pain. Your physician may attempt to lessen some of the side effects, particularly sedation, by having you take these medications at night. There are some other side effects like dry mouth that can be treated with drinking water or fluids. These medications may not be given to patients with certain types of glaucoma. In addition, these medications should never be taken in larger doses than are prescribed.
  3. Anticonvulsants (Anti-seizure) Medications: These medications can be very helpful for some kinds of nerve type pain (such as burning, shooting pain). These medications also are not meant to be taken on an “as needed” basis. They should be taken every day whether or not you feel pain. Some of them may have the side effect of drowsiness which often improves with time. Some have the side effect of weight gain. If you have kidney stones or glaucoma, be sure to tell your doctor as there are some anticonvulsants that are not recommended to be given under those conditions. The newer anticonvulsants do not need liver monitoring but required caution if given to patients with kidney disease.
  4. Muscle Relaxants: These medications are most often used in the acute setting of muscle spasm. The most common side effect seen with these medications is drowsiness.
  5. Opioids: When used appropriately, opioids may be very effective in controlling certain types of chronic pain. They tend to be less effective or require higher doses in nerve type pain. For pain is present all day and night, a long acting opioid is usually recommended. One of the most frequent side effects is constipation, which if mild may be treated by drinking lots of liquids, but may need to be treated with medications. Drowsiness is another side effect which often gets better over time as you get used to the medication. Excessive drowsiness should be discussed with your physician. Nausea is another side effect which may be difficult to treat and may require changing to another opioid.

3. If I am taking narcotic (opioid) medication for chronic pain, does that mean I am addicted?

Taking opioids in the way that they have been prescribed by your doctor for the treatment of chronic pain is associated with a very low risk of becoming addicted to those opioids. There are some predisposing factors to opioid addiction. These include having a history or a family history of substance abuse or of certain psychiatric illnesses. The following are definitions for addiction, tolerance, and physical dependence according to the American Pain Society:

  • Addiction has a genetic basis in addition to a psychological aspect to the behavior. Addiction is associated with a craving for the abused substance (such as an opioid), and continued, compulsive use of that substance despite harm to the person using the substance. In addition to having a genetic predisposition, there may be an environmental influence affecting both the development and manifestation of the additive behavior.
  • Tolerance occurs after prolonged exposure to a drug. The effects of that drug results in progressive decrease in its effectiveness.
  • Physical Dependence is usually seen in the form of drug withdrawal after the drug has been abruptly stopped or rapidly reduced. It can also be seen when an opioid antagonist is given to someone who is taking an opioid. It is a state of adaptation. Withdrawal symptoms last from approximately 6 to a peak of 24 to 72 hours after the drug has been withdrawn. Some of the symptoms include nausea, vomiting, sweating, abdominal pain or diarrhea and can occur after taking the opioid for as short a period as 2 weeks. It is not a sign of addiction.

If you are prescribed opioids by your doctor, you are to take the opioids as they have been prescribed. If your pain continues despite taking the opioid, it is inadvisable to take more opioid than prescribed without first seeking the advice of your doctor. Taking a long-acting opioid a few times per day is less likely to give the sensation of euphoria that may be associated with some short acting opioids. Long-acting opioids are not meant to be taken on an “as needed” basis and should be taken whether or not you have pain and should not be taken more frequently than prescribed by your doctor. Constipation is one of the more frequently seen side effects of chronic opioid use, remedies, such as stool softeners and stimulants, are available.

4. What are some of the more common nerve block procedures for the treatment of chronic pain? What are some of the common side effects associated with these nerve blocks?

The vast majority of injections done for the diagnosis or treatment of chronic pain are performed on an outpatient basis. Some are performed on inpatients, who may be already hospitalized for other reasons. All of them may be performed under fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance but are sometime performed in the office without x-ray. For any nerve block, you need to tell your doctor if you are allergic to contrast dye or if you think you may be pregnant. Below is a brief description of some of the more commonly performed nerve blocks by pain management specialists.

  • Epidural Steroid injection: Epidural steroid injection is an injection performed in the back or neck in an attempt to place some anti-inflammatory steroid with or without a local anesthetic into the epidural space close to the inflamed area that is causing the pain. These injections are generally done for pain involving the back and leg or the neck and arm/hand. They may be done under x-ray guidance. Common side effects include soreness of the back or neck at the point where the needle enters the skin, there may be some temporary numbness in the involved extremity but persistent numbness or weakness (lasting over 8 hours) should be reported to your doctor. Epidural steroid injections may be placed in the lumbar (low back), thoracic (mid back), or cervical (neck) regions.
  • Facet Joint Injection: The facet joints assist with movement of the spine both in the neck and back. Injection into these joints can provide relief of neck and back pain; these injections are always performed under x-ray guidance. Common side effects include soreness in the neck or back when the needle was inserted. You will be on your stomach for this injection if it is done for back pain; however you may either be on your stomach or back if the injection is performed for neck pain, depending on the preference of the physician. A needle is placed in your neck or back and advanced to the level of the joint under x-ray visualization. Contrast dye is used if the needle is put within the joint, and sometimes used if the injection is designed to numb the nerves to the joint. This block is often a diagnostic block and a more long lasting injection may be indicated if you have significant pain relief from this injection.
  • Lumbar Sympathetic Block: A lumbar sympathetic nerve block is performed for pain in the leg that is thought to be caused by complex regional pain syndrome type I (or CRPS I). These injections are often performed under fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance. Local anesthetic is placed near to the lumbar sympathetic chain in order to relieve the pain. Your leg will likely become warm immediately following the injection: this is an expected effect and not a complication. Back soreness is one of the more common side effects. If you feel any sharp pains down your leg or to your groin during the injection, you should let the physician know immediately. There may be some temporary numbness following the injection but if there is persistent numbness or weakness (> 8 hours) the doctor should be notified. You will be lying on your stomach for this injection. The injection is done from the back, in the lower aspect of the back. A needle is placed, often under x-ray guidance, to a spot just to the side and approaching the front part of the spine where the ganglion is located. If it is done under x-ray, a small amount of dye is injected to make sure the needle is in the right spot. After the doctor is satisfied that the contrast dye is in the right place, they will inject numbing medicine then remove the needle.
  • Celiac Plexus Block: A celiac plexus block is generally performed to relieve pain in patients with cancer of the pancreas or other chronic abdominal pains. A needle is placed via your back that deposits numbing medicine to the area of a group of nerves called the celiac plexus. This injection is often performed as a diagnostic injection to see whether a more permanent injection may help with the pain. If it provides significant pain relief then the more long lasting injection may be done. This injection is usually performed under x-ray guidance. You will be lying on your stomach for this injection. The needle is place via the mid back and placed just in front of the spine. Contrast dye is injected to confirm that the needle is in the right spot; followed by some numbing medicine.
  • Stellate Ganglion Block: A stellate ganglion block is an injection that can be performed for the diagnosis of complex regional pain syndrome of the arm or hand or for treatment of pain to that area. It can also be used to help to improve blood flow to the hand or arm in certain conditions that result in poor circulation of the hand. Side effects may include soreness in the neck where the needle was placed. In some instances the side effects may include droopiness of your eyelid on the side that is injected, along with a temporarily stuffy nose and sometimes temporary difficulty in swallowing. This injection is performed with or without x-ray guidance. You will be lying on your back for this injection with your mouth slightly open. It is very helpful to the doctor if you try not to swallow during the injection. If this injection is performed under x-ray the doctor will first inject a small amount of contrast to confirm the placement of the needle then inject some numbing medicine.

5. Will I receive a bill from the pain management specialist?

Your pain management specialist is a physician specialist like your surgeon or internist, and you probably will receive a bill for your pain management specialist’s professional service as you would from your other physicians. If you have any financial concerns, your pain management specialist or an office staff member will answer your questions.

Original Article Here

10 Things Most People Don’t Know About Chiropractors


1. Pain is the last symptom of dysfunction. A patient’s back is often restricted or unstable for months or years before it presents as a problem and they show up in a chiropractor’s office. In addition, the absence of pain is not health. While medication may be needed, if you take a pill and the pain goes away, the dysfunction that caused it still persists. Muscle, ligament and joint injuries often occur as a result of long-term biomechanical dysfunction, sometimes from past injuries, making the area more susceptible to future injury.

2. Athletes use chiropractors to stay well and perform better, not just for the occasional injury.

Athletes choose chiropractors because we are movement specialists. Chiropractors were spotted all over the Olympic coverage last year, and top athletes such as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, Tom Brady, Evander Holyfield, and Arnold Schwarzenegger have all been proud patients of chiropractors. These days it’s far more common than not for major athletes and sports teams to keep chiropractors nearby to help prevent injuries, speed injury recovery, improve balance and coordination, and give them a greater competitive edge.

3. The body does not perform as a cluster of separate mechanisms, but rather a cascade of events that all starts with proper control by the nervous system.

The nerves that travel through and control every function of your body originate at the spinal cord and their transmission may be disrupted if the joints of the surrounding spinal column are not moving properly. This disruption in biomechanical integrity combined with altered physiological function is what chiropractors call a subluxation. Below is a chart that illustrates the relationship of the spinal nerves exiting the vertebra branching off to the various organ systems. You can see why it is not uncommon for a chiropractor to treat a patient with mid-back pain who also suffers from irritable bowel system, a patient with a subluxated sacrum who has been unsuccessfully trying to become pregnant, or a patient with an upper back fixation and acid reflux.


4. Doctors don’t do the healing.

Sorry to disappoint you, but a chiropractor will never fix your back. What we are able to do is restore proper motion in the joints, which relieves tension on the nerves and muscles and allows your body to do the healing that it is inherently made to do. As chiropractors, we believe that the body is a perfect organism in its natural state, and all disease comes from a disruption in the body’s proper transmission of signals by the nerves which affects its ability to heal and to defend against disease-causing agents. We never treat disease. We assess to find which spinal levels are causing the disfunction, and we adjust it to restore proper nerve flow so the nervous system may work as efficiently and effectively as possible.

5. Chiropractic is for all ages. Many seniors aren’t aware of the benefits of chiropractic care which can help them not only with pain relief, but also increase range of motion, balance and coordination, and decrease joint degeneration. There’s no patient too young for chiropractic either! Chiropractors check infants moments after birth for misalignments of the upper vertebrae that may occur as a result of the birth process. In addition to supporting overall health and well-being, parents also take their children to chiropractors to encourage healthy brain and nervous system development, to assist with colic, asthma, allergies, bed-wetting and sleeping problems, and to assist with behavioral disorders.

6. We know about more than your backbone! This surprises many people who had no idea that chiropractors give advice on nutrition, fitness, ergonomics and lifestyle, screen for conditions unrelated to the musculoskeletal system and refer out to other practitioners when necessary. Chiropractors are also able to complete specialties in other areas such as pediatrics, sports rehabilitation, neurology, clinical nutrition, and addictions and compulsive disorders.

Other than particular specialties and the differences in learning to adjust and learning to prescribe medication, our training hours are not dissimilar from that of medical doctor. The following are the classroom hours for basic science requirements compiled and averaged following a review of curricula of 18 chiropractic schools and 22 medical schools.


7. Successful chiropractic patients accept responsibility. When somebody says that they tried chiropractic and it didn’t help, I cringe and get the feeling that they really missed the boat. Of course, there are cases with complicating factors, but I have heard this from people with straightforward chiropractic problems when it is very clear what has happened here. In most cases, one doesn’t acquire back pain over night, and it’s not going to go away over night. If a weak core from years of sitting at your desk is to blame for the additional stress on your joints, I would expect an adjustment to provide relief, but once the condition is no longer exacerbated, I would most definitely prescribe some exercises for you to do at home. I might also suggest we evaluate your nutrition if I suspect an inflammatory diet may be wiring you for pain.  Sure, I’m always happy to adjust someone, but if you’ve been given homework and you don’t do it, remember that this has to be a team effort!

8. Chiropractic may help you get sick less. Studies have indicated that adjustments consistently reduce the production of pro-inflammatory mediators associated with tissue damage and pain, and may also enhance the production of immunoregulatory complexes important for healthy immune system defense. As far back as the deadly flu pandemic of 1917-1918, chiropractors noticed that their patients seemed to have fewer fatalities than among the general population and were able to publish their work in an osteopathic journal since no scholarly journals were accepting chiropractic data. The estimated death rate among patients of conventional medical care in the U.S. was estimated at 5 to 6 percent while the fatality rate among influenza cases receiving spinal adjustments was estimated at 0.25%.

9. “I heard I’ll have to go forever” is a myth. You may want to go to your chiropractor forever once you’ve started because you didn’t realize how great getting adjusted is, but your doctor won’t expect you to come for continuous care without symptoms. Generally, if you come in with pain, once you’ve been treated for your initial complaint, you’ll be scheduled for a few more appointments to make sure proper motion is being maintained, then it will be recommended you return occasionally to be checked just like you would go to the dentist to get checked for tartar buildup and cavities. Of course, many people still choose to see their chiropractor weekly or monthly for wellness or maintenance care.

10. Adjustments don’t hurt. There is no bone snapping or warrior-style pulling heads off spinal columns! The neck adjustment some chiropractors use causes anticipation for many new patients, but is actually much more gentle than they imagined, and involves a quick, direct thrust to a specific spinal bone. The sound an adjustment makes is called a cavitation and is only space being created within the joint causing gasses to be released from the joint capsule, which creates the popping or cracking noise. Also, chiropractic adjustments will not wear out your joints, as some imagine because they have been warned not to “crack their knuckles” for this reason in the past. Adjustments, unlike “knuckle cracking” or having your friend stomp on you while you lay on the carpet, are applied specifically to improve the motion of your joints and limit the small dysfunctions that over time can lead to arthritis. Most people after an adjustment describe the feeling as being “lighter”, having greater ease in moving the body, and being able to stand up taller.




Article Found HERE

Don’t Call Them Pill Mills: Pain Management Practices Recoil at Bad Rap


Imagine comparing The New York Times to the National Inquirer. Or Lawrence Olivier to Fabio. Or Van Gogh to Thomas Kinkade.

What Are Pill Mills?

Lawmakers and law enforcers have been cracking down recently on clinics, as well as doctors and pharmacies, that illegally or irresponsibly dispense prescription narcotics. These clinics, known as “pill mills”, sell prescription drugs to those who have no medical need of them, or in excessive amounts, and have directly contributed to many of the recent restrictions that have been placed on the distribution and availability of prescription drugs. Although they can be found all over the country, they have made most notable headlines in Florida and Texas, which the Drug Enforcement Agency believes to have the greatest numbers of mills.

“The typical pill mill,” says Vinod Malik,  a West Coast physician with several board certifications and the director of PRC Associates for 11 years, “you walk in, no appointment needed, no evaluation by a physician, you pay cash, you get your prescription, and you go home.”

How are Pain Management Clinics Different?

A pain management clinic (in the general legal definition) is a facility providing pain treatment options or that has at least one doctor licensed to prescribe controlled medication for pain. Pain clinics are subject to legal rules and standards, such as being licensed, being subject to inspection by the board and the state, employing licensed staff, etc. Prescription pain medication is regulated by federal law, so doctors who prescribe it “without a legitimate medical purpose or outside the usual course of medical practice” can be charged with drug trafficking. At “pill mills”, the doctor, pharmacist, or other operators sell these medications to people without valid medical reason, or in large quantities, making a significant profit for themselves in the process. People even travel from out of state to purchase medication from these mills. This flood of powerful and easily-accessible drugs has contributed to a significant rise in street usage of and addiction to narcotics; overdosing on prescription drugs is now the second-leading cause of accidental death in the United States.

Male Patient Visiting Doctor's Office With Back Ache

One particular Palm Coast pain management practice, as Kavita Sharma, a pain management doctor, prefers to identify it (rather than a mere “clinic,” because “no one can walk in and say, I want to be seen today”), couldn’t be further from that. No walk-ins are accepted. It’s a referral-only practice. It’s an elaborate, “interventional” pain management operation staffed by board certified doctors, each with at least two board certification, each predisposed to shun pills, each dealing directly and exclusively with his or her patients without the intercession of nurse practitioners or physicians’ assistants.  The four doctors have privileges at all Florida Hospital facilities. Pill mill doctors not only would generally be denied such privileges: they’d be segregated from the rest of the medical community, which doesn’t want to be associated with them.

“Pill only” therapy generally goes against the doctors’ principles and medical philosophy: they’re there to cure patients of their pain or their dependence on narcotics, not to feed it. And they do so mostly through “interventional” means such as injections, radiofrequency ablations, and other, equally tongue-twisting procedures that pill mill patrons have no use for.

Patients are required to sign a narcotic agreement and submit to urine tests to ensure that they’re following their prescribed regimen. If any diversion is detected, it’s a sign that the patients are either abusing the drugs or selling them. If, for example, they’ve been prescribed certain pills but their urine doesn’t show that they’ve been using them at the correct dosage, they’re not in compliance with their narcotic agreement.

“If they don’t comply with that they get fired,” Sharma says. “You actually discharge the patient if they don’t comply with or fail a narcotics screening.” She adds: “Word on the street is, if you want your pills, don’t go top these doctors. They won’t write prescriptions for it.”

The general public has been made little aware of the challenges posed by pill mills or of the important nuances and differences between pill mills and pain management practices.

In response, some states have now placed limits on the amount of drugs doctors can prescribe, which some argue has made it more difficult and expensive for people who actually need them to obtain them. Either way, doctors engaging in criminal activity with their prescriptions at pill mills have made even legitimate doctors subject to closer scrutiny.


Signs that a facility may actually be a pill mill include not requiring a physical exam, x-rays or medical records before being prescribed drugs, being able to pick your preferred medication, being directed to “their” specific pharmacy, and treating pain solely with pills. Pill mills also tend to open and close very suddenly, as an attempt to evade law enforcement.

So pill mills, for now, continue to thrive, feeding addictions—and damaging the reputation of the legitimate and necessary pain management profession.

Original articles here & here 

Back Pain Management 101


Are you doing everything you can to relieve your back pain?

(HealthNewsDigest.com) – West Orange, NJ, April 28, 2015 – People with chronic back pain may have already tried an array of non-invasive pain management methods to dull the ache, including exercise, medications, physical therapy, hot and cold packs and other techniques. But many don’t know about three innovative non-surgical procedures that can radically increase the odds of longer-term relief, according to pain management specialist Brian A. Bannister, MD, of Atlantic Spine Center. With back pain affecting 80% of adults at some point in their lives, learning about this trio of procedures should be considered Back Pain Management 101, along with all the other conservative treatments used to keep up an active lifestyle in the midst of recurring back pain.

“Many people with lower back pain are aware how common the problem is, but don’t think to visit a health care provider who specifically treats patients dealing with it every day,” says Dr. Bannister. “That needs to change if they’re to avail themselves of the widest possible array of non-invasive treatments that might help them live their lives normally again, painlessly.”

Three effective back pain management procedures

What are these non-surgical procedures? Dr. Bannister explains:

  • Epidural steroid injections: These injections deliver a long-lasting steroid and a local anesthetic into the epidural space in the spinal cord. The steroid cuts inflammation and irritation of the nerves and the anesthetic interrupts the transmission of pain signals. Epidural steroid injections are commonly used for many causes of back pain, including radiculitis (pain that radiates from an irritated spinal nerve root); compressed nerves in the neck or lower spine; degenerative disc disease; spinal stenosis; herniated discs; and sciatica.
  • Radiofrequency nerve ablation: Also known as radiofrequency lesioning or neurotomy, this treatment uses a specialized device to block nerve signals in affected spinal areas, with relief lasting 3 to 18 months. Fluoroscopic x-rays allow the accurate placement of a special heated probe next to affected nerves. Radiofrequency nerve ablation is used to treat spinal arthritis; stenosis; facet arthritis; whiplash; and sprains and strains.
  • Spinal cord stimulator: This procedure inserts electrical wires into the spinal canal to stimulate the spinal cord, producing electrical impulses that interfere with pain signal transmission to the brain. Painful spinal cord stimulation is then replaced with a more pleasant tingling sensation in areas where pain is usually felt. Spinal cord stimulation is done on patients whose previous spine surgery failed, or have severe nerve-related pain or numbness, or have neuropathic pain and surgery is not an option.

Tips and advantages to non-surgical procedures

All treatments have pros and cons, but this trio of non-surgical back pain management techniques boasts an impressive list of advantages, according to Dr. Bannister. Not only are they minimally invasive, but they require minimal or no blood loss, reduce the reliance on pain medications, and don’t involve removal of muscle or bone.

An additional benefit really stands out: The pain relief these procedures provide can help confirm a patient’s specific diagnosis – the initial cause of their back pain. Pinpointing the diagnosis can then help doctors decide what may eradicate the pain permanently.

“Many of these procedures take less than an hour to complete, and patients can go right back to work or other activities,” Dr. Bannister says. “From a quality of life aspect, these treatments are great. I’m hoping more chronic back pain sufferers learn more about them in order to take advantage of these benefits and get back to doing their favorite things without nagging pain.”


Atlantic Spine Center is a nationally recognized leader for endoscopic spine surgery with several locations in NJ and NYC. www.atlanticspinecenter.com,www.atlanticspinecenter.nyc

Brian A. Bannister, MD, is a pain management specialist board-certified in anesthesiology at Atlantic Spine Center.

See original article here