Treatments for Pain

At the The Kahan Center for Pain Management we take a comprehensive approach to pain medicine, and we encourage patients to use methods that work best for them, including but not limited to pain medications, non-drug treatments, and interventional pain reliefing procedures.

Types of Pain Remedies

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) relieve mild to moderate pain. These medications work by decrwasing inflammation in your body that is cuasing the pain. Thorugh various mechanisms these medication will decrease swelling in joints and discs to alleviate pain. A doctor may prescribe some. Others may be bought over the counter.

Opioid drugs relieve moderate to severe pain. They are also called narcotics. These medications alleviate pain by blocking mu receptors in your body that regulate pain. They are used in combination with other forms of treatment to minimize your pain and increase your function.For some people when first taken, they may cause drowsiness and promote sleep. Talk to your doctor or nurse if this is a problem for you. In general, don’t worry about becoming addicted to opioid medications. People who take pain medications for the purpose of getting pain relief have a different motive than those who do not have pain and who take drugs just to get high. Unless you are having a problem with drug abuse, you will want to stop taking the medicines once the pain has gone away.

Antidepressants and anti-seizure medicines can be prescribed by a doctor to relieve pain caused by nerve damage or vascular damage. This type of pain is typically described as burning in nature and tingling. Opioids tend not to work well for this type of pain. Please note: the fact that these medicines have been prescribed for you does not mean you are depressed or at risk for seizures.

Corticosteroids can be prescribed by a doctor to relieve pain. Remember, you will be taking steroids for pain relief; do not confuse these with steroids that some athletes take illegally to build up their bodies. To avoid withdrawal symptoms the dosage needs to be decreased slowly.

Breakthrough medication is medication that you can take in addition to you pain medication for those periods during the day that your pain has increased. This medication is generally reserved for pain that has occurred due to activity or exercise. These medications are short acting and only stay in your body for a few hours.

Non-pharmaceutical Methods for Pain Relief

There are several treatments available that can be used alone or in combination with medicine to help manage pain. They are briefly explained and include:

Acupuncture: A pain relief method that was developed by the Chinese. Needles are inserted into certain points of the body to relieve pain.

Biofeedback: A technique in which people are trained to use signals from their bodies to help cope with pain. It may involve “behavioral modification: which means changing a person’s reaction to life’s stressful events.

Imagery, visualization, meditation, stress- reduction and relaxation: techniques taught to help direct your mind away from feeling pain.

Music: Like pain, music is different for every one. Tastes range from opera to rock. You know what type of music will take your mind off things. If you are not sure, you may be interested to know that research has shown that many people thoroughly relax by listening to Gregorian chants, “ambient” or “new age” music. You may want to check these out at a music store.

Hot or cold pads: will decrease pain by changing blood flow.

Physical therapy: Exercises and movement of muscles done under the direction of a certified physical therapist.

Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS): Mild electric currents are applied to selected areas of the skin helping to interfere with pain sensations.

Special Treatments and Methods
for Pain Relief

Some patients have pain that is not relieved by medicine. In these cases other treatments can be used to reduce pain:

Surgery- when a tumor presses on nerves or a part of the body it may cause pain. An operation to remove the tumor may relieve the pain.

Neurosurgery- pain nerves, most often in the spinal cord, are cut to help relieve pain.

Radiation therapy- one or more treatments help reduce pain by shrinking a tumor.

Nerve blocks- this is when pain medicine is injected close to a nerve or into the back to help block pain.

Radiofrequency- applying an electrical current to heat sensory nerves to eliminate pain. This technique can provide longer lasting pain relief if nerve blocks are successful in decreasing pain and is not as invasive as neurosurgery.

Cryoablation- this applies the same concept as radiofrequency however the nerves are frozen instead.

Spinal cord stimulation- applies an electrical lead directly over the sensory structure of the spinal cord to decrease pain and interfere with pain transition. (www.tamethepain.com)

Implantable drug delivery systems- utilizes implantation of a drug delivery system to provide continuous levels of pain medication 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.(www.tamethepain.com)