Pain Management

Chronic pain is dysfunctional pain that persists for three months or longer, often indicating underlying tissue damage. In cases where chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis cause this damage, it is crucial for the patient and healthcare team to collaboratively develop a maintenance programme. At the same time, pain procedures are useful in controlling the pain. There are three main types of pain procedures aimed at preventing pain signals from reaching the brain – if the brain does not receive these signals, the patient will not experience pain.

Various chemicals can be injected to disrupt pain signals that the body sends to the brain. These may include local anaesthetic agents, steroids, and alcohols. Typically, the effects of these blocks, except for those involving alcohol, are short-lived. They are frequently used for managing pain but are also employed as diagnostic tools or as preparation for radiofrequency procedures.

A radiofrequency generator is used to send pulses through an electrode that is advanced into a needle placed in the patient’s body at the site where the pain signals are generated. This process renders the nerves that transmit pain inactive. This is a minimally invasive procedure performed in a day facility, usually providing pain relief for 12 to 24 months.

Similar to radiofrequency neuromodulation, this procedure uses continuous waves to destroy the nerves carrying pain signals. The nerves eventually regrow. Like neuromodulation, this is a minimally invasive procedure done in a day facility and typically offers pain relief for 12 to 24 months. However, it poses a greater risk to the nerves than radiofrequency neuromodulation.

Platelet-rich plasma injections (PRP): A concentration of a patient’s own platelets is injected into the tissue to reduce inflammation.

Spinal cord stimulators: A battery-driven generator, creating electrical waves that are transmitted through electrodes directly to the spinal cord or nerves, is implanted into the body.

Intrathecal morphine pumps: A battery-driven pump that delivers morphine directly to the spinal cord is implanted into the body.

There are numerous other types of pain procedures. If you are interested in learning more, please discuss these options with your interdisciplinary pain team and your interventional pain doctor.

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