STILL IN PAIN?
By Kim Safman, MD
If you have been suffering with pain for longer than three months, you
are not alone. Chronic pain affects an estimated 86 million Americans.
The most common complaints are low back pain and headache, but medical
conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and cancer treatment are common
sources of pain as well.
Traditional therapies for chronic pain include over-the-counter pain relievers
such as Tylenol and Motrin, and prescription medications like Codeine
and Vicodin. However, patients may be surprised to learn that many different
kinds of medications help control pain from the ‘inside out’.
For instance, anti-depressants and seizure medications have proven very
effective in helping patients to manage their pain. Antidepressants are
useful because they adjust the levels of neurotransmitters (natural chemicals)
in the brain that help enhance feelings of well-being and relaxation.
Anticonvulsants, or seizure medications, help minimize impulses to nerves
that cause pain. These medications may be used in tandem with other therapies.
Medications are, of course, just one part of a comprehensive approach to
treating pain. At Newport Orthopedic Institute, we employ physical therapy
first. If the pain persists, we then consider medication and a means of
controlling the discomfort. Other treatments that may also be effective
include acupuncture, massage therapy, visualization techniques and psychotherapy.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS, delivers low-voltage
electrical currents through the skin near the source of pain. The electricity
from the electrodes stimulates nerves in the area where pain persists
and ‘scrambles’ the signals of normal pain perception. TENS
is not painful and has proven to be an effective therapy to mask pain.
If you are experiencing chronic pain, you don’t need to continue
suffering. Using a variety of traditional and alternative treatments,
pain specialists can help you cope with the discomfort and regain your
quality of life.