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Chronic Pain

What is it? How can you deal with it?

Chronic pain is defined as a persistent pain that does not go away or recurs frequently even after six months have passed. While pain may not be constant, it is the dominant fact of life for many chronic pain sufferers.

Constant pain may lead to depression, broken marriages, destroyed friendships, and isolation. Traditional treatment with pain medication can lead to drug dependence and eventually addiction. Chronic pain can interfere with every aspect of a person’s life: work relationships, self-esteem and emotional well-being.

What are the causes of chronic pain?

Chronic pain has many different causes. Normal aging may sometimes affect bones and joints in ways that cause chronic pain. Other common causes are nerve damage and injuries that fail to heal properly. In many cases, however, the source of chronic pain can be so complex that it is very difficult to diagnose. When you feel pain, it’s because the nerve fibers in your spinal cord send a pain signal to your brain. This is the reason why one treatment option is spinal cord stimulation, through which the spinal cord receives electrical stimulation that masks pain signals.

What are the symptoms of chronic pain?

Persistent pain, which may go away with the right treatment, but then comes back.

What does treatment of chronic pain involve?

According to each case and pain origin, there are options like over-the-counter medications, physical therapy and other powerful prescription drugs. But these drugs don’t come without risk: overuse can lead to dependence and even addiction, and diminished effects. In some cases, invasive surgery is recommended; for example, in the spinal cord, but the recovery time is long. Spinal cord stimulation is a therapy that can be reversed and that has helped thousands of people find relief. This happens because your spinal cord and brain communicate with each other. This way, pain can be controlled without medication, through spinal cord stimulation that interrupts or “masks” pain signals before they get to the brain. This therapy consists of a small implantable pulse generator (IPG) and thin wires (leads) that are placed inside the body. The leads deliver tiny pulses to the nerves that mask pain signals as they travel to the brain, producing a tingling sensation, which reduces the feeling of pain (doctors call it “paresthesia”). Spinal cord stimulation can help control pain in the lower back and the legs, offering a series of important therapeutic benefits, such as: important pain relief in the long term, less need to take other drugs to relieve pain, and precise targeting of the area where pain is felt. What’s more: therapy levels can be adapted to fit different activities and times of day. If for any reason the patient decides to stop treatment, the doctor can remove the system from the patient’s body. While the spinal cord stimulation itself doesn’t use medication to block pain signals, it can be used along with pain medications, if necessary.

Prevention  

It is extremely complex to talk about chronic pain prevention, due to the fact that prevention depends on the part of the body in which the pain is located and what the causes are. But we can state that chronic neuropathic pain can be treated with neurostimulation to relieve pain and improve patients’ quality of life.