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3 Procedures To Help With Chronic Pain

by Bonnie Gordon

Pain medication can be an invaluable resource to manage ongoing pain, but it is important to explore other options to alleviate chronic pain. Fortunately, there are several procedures that may be helpful, especially for musculoskeletal or nerve pain.

Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is used to selectively destroy the nerve ending that may be responsible for all or most of your pain. This procedure is helpful for pain caused by degeneration of the spine, which might cause low back or neck pain that radiates to the extremities. Since nerves have some capacity to regenerate, the procedure is not a permanent fix. You might find your pain is reduced or alleviated for up to a year after procedure before it needs to be done again.

Protein-Rich Plasma Therapy

Protein-rich plasma (PRP) involves using your own plasma cells to aid in the healing process. This procedure is typically used for pain in a single joint. For example, people who have arthritis in their knee might use PRP to reduce pain and possibly repair damaged cartilage. PRP has fewer risks associated with it than using other common treatments for joint pain, such as steroid injections. PRP can be used in combination with other treatments to help control joint pain. You will likely need multiple PRP injections to determine if the treatment is effective. This treatment might also be used for people with acute or old injuries, such as those associated with sports, in hopes of helping ligaments and tendons heal.

Nerve Block

Nerve blocks work similarly to RFA, except an anesthetic is used at the nerve root instead of creating controlled damage. Your doctor may use a nerve block to manage pain, but also before doing RFA or another procedure to help determine which nerve is responsible for your pain and what will happen if the nerve is desensitized. In some cases, a nerve block might be given via a spinal drug delivery system, much like a pain pump. Once the pump is surgically installed, you can press the button to administer the anesthetic directly where it is needed. For people with ongoing, severe pain, this may be a safer alternative than managing pain with pain relievers and can be more effective since the medication is administered directly to the affected area.

Exploring all your options to manage chronic pain can minimize your risk of prescription drug abuse, while improving your quality of life. Although chronic pain can seem impossible to manage, there are several pain management treatments procedures that can offer hope.