When you are suffering from chronic pain daily, you are willing to do whatever it takes to feel better again.
This is why many chronic pain patients undergo a series of doctors’ visits and different treatments, like pain medications and prescriptions. And yet, the cycle continues indefinitely, looking for a solution.
Using Surgery to Treat Chronic Pain
Sometimes, as a last resort, you may even consider a major surgical procedure to alleviate your pain and to get your life back on track. Understandably, this would seem like the best option, too, especially if previous treatments haven’t worked.
Chronic pain is common, and it rarely goes away on its own. Patients will often consider drastic measures to find any relief.
But before you make such a significant decision, it’s essential to understand some of the issues that may occur. Surgery may not be the best option for your specific chronic pain, and for a myriad of reasons which include the following.
1. It’s Risky
A recent study that was published in a 2018 issue of Pain magazine found that invasive procedures for chronic pain aren’t readily justifiable, and more importantly, are significantly risky.
Focusing on 25 clinical trials that involved 2,000 patients with various chronic pain conditions, (like back pain, arthritis, and abdominal pain), the researchers compared the outcomes of invasive procedures versus “sham” procedures.
(A sham procedure involves all of the rituals of surgery, including preparations and set up, anesthesia if needed, and tissue penetration, but no actual manipulation of the tissue.)
The results found there was a significantly higher risk for adverse events to occur during actual procedures – a troubling 12% – versus sham procedures, which had a 4% risk.
2. It’s Costly
More than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Across the country, medical costs associated with chronic pain are astronomical, with some estimates putting the annual costs at roughly $635 billion.
On an individual level, the expenses for surgery can be high too – even with insurance – as not all inpatient or outpatient care costs may be covered, and there are outside expenses once you’re off the operating table.
Consider the time lost at work, physical therapy, and medication costs. And, all the other extra impacts on your income that can have long-term repercussions, well after the surgery is over.
3. It’s Not Always Effective
The time it takes to recover from an invasive surgical procedure can range from 3 months to 12 months. And even then, it may not alleviate all of your pain, or can also cause new problems.
Though the statistics vary based on the procedure, a large percentage of surgeries for chronic pain are unsuccessful.
4. There May be Better Options!
Before you decide to undergo surgery, make sure you’ve covered all of your options. Start with a visit to an Interventional Pain Management Specialist!
An experienced pain management provider will take time to examine your specific case before making a recommendation for treatment. They won’t just rely on common treatments for similar situations.
Partner with a pain management provider who will research and thoroughly examine your specific pain before proceeding.
You may be able to avoid a costly and risky surgical procedure. Also, you may be able to find a clearer path to chronic pain relief.
Tips for Coping With Chronic Pain
If you suffer from chronic pain, you know you need to find ways to cope in everyday life.
There is no substitute for enlisting the help of an experienced interventional pain management specialist. However, there are a few things you can do before your initial consultation and appointment to mitigate the pain.
Deep breathing and meditation has been shown to provide temporary relief for chronic pain sufferers, as it relieves tension and stress, which can increase the physical effects of pain, as well as provide a much-welcomed distraction.
Focusing on your breath or practicing other relaxation techniques is also a coping mechanism that you can perform anywhere, and any time that chronic pain starts to flare up.
2. Increase Your Endorphins
Endorphins, which are released during exercise and physical activity, not only provide an instant mood boost, but they have also been shown to block pain signals temporarily.
If you are unable to engage in rigorous physical activities like running or jogging, try finding more gentle ways to increase your heart rate and to work up a sweat, such as through yoga or swimming.
Be sure and consult your pain management physician before starting any exercise program, however, so that you don’t inadvertently affect the root cause of your chronic pain.
3. Cut Back on Alcohol
Alcohol can make it harder to sleep as it interrupts and interferes with your sleep cycle, and poor quality sleep can easily make chronic pain worse.
Also, although alcohol or other self-medicating attempts can provide temporary relief, it can easily lead the way for dependence, substance abuse, and addiction.
4. Eat Well
Good nutrition has a significant role when it comes to the production of mood-related chemicals, such as the stress hormone cortisol, and too much stress can easily trigger chronic pain.
Avoid foods high in sugar, fat, and unrefined carbohydrates to ensure your mood-regulators are in check.
5. Try a Gentle Massage
You can make an appointment with an experienced massage therapist. Or if you need immediate relief, you can enlist the help of a loved one or try it yourself.
Use very soft strokes for the location of your pain, and also be sure and address other parts of your body during the massage for overall relaxation.
A simple massaging of the temples can bring your focus away from your chronic pain while alleviating stress and encouraging a calmer and more relaxed state of mind.
6. Switch Positions
Too much time in any position can put added pressure on certain body parts and can make chronic pain worse – especially when it comes to the back, knees, neck, and legs.
So if you start to feel your pain flare up, try moving to a different position – whether it’s sitting, standing, or lying down – and see if removing the pressure also helps to remove the pain.
We Can Help with Your Chronic Pain
Remember, the only way to fully address chronic pain is to get to the root cause of the problem.
So while these techniques may help in the short-term, working with an experienced pain management specialist is the best and ultimate way to stop chronic pain at the source.
Schedule your consultation with Dr. Rich today so we can get to work uncovering this root cause of your pain.