I recently saw a patient who had been dealing with pain in his lower back for more than a year following back surgery. When I asked him why he waited so long to seek relief, he said, “I didn’t think there were any treatments left to try and I don’t want any more surgery.”
That may have been the case in the past, but that sentiment is old news today. Comparing back pain treatments from even as recently as 10-20 years ago to what we have available today is like comparing analog and digital technology. Things have changed—and continue to change—rapidly. The advancements taking place currently in the field of pain management and minimally invasive interventional procedures mean that many patients can live pain-free or with significantly reduced pain.
For this patient, and others like him who continue to struggle with pain even after surgery (known as post-laminectomy syndrome), we now have several treatment options, including spinal cord stimulation and radiofrequency neurotomy. Spinal cord stimulation involves implanting a small electronic device that emits signals that interrupt the signals that transmit pain in the spinal cord. Radiofrequency neurotomy, also known as ablation, involves using heat to deaden the nerve endings that send pain signals.
Each of these procedures is done in our offices, using fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance. They take less than one hour and patients go home after a short observation period. Like all minimally invasive interventions, the results may vary from patient to patient, but both procedures have been used for many years and have successful track records for significantly reducing—or in some cases, eliminating—pain.
If you or someone you know is experiencing chronic pain, please contact me. As a board certified pain management specialist, I know there are many therapies available to treat acute and chronic pain. Don’t let old news keep you from the relief that can come from new approaches to treating pain.