Options for non-surgical vs. surgical pain treatment exist for millions of people suffering from chronic pain. Chronic pain, unfortunately, affects 9% of the people in America, according to the American Pain Society (APS). With this high percentage of people suffering on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, there are many options for treating pain, and the APS and other organizations exist in the US to help people, physicians and the patients, find solutions. A study by the APS titled’ Chronic Pain in America: Roadblocks to Relief’ defines chronic pain as severe and ever present among middle aged to the elderly and is more common in women than men. A third of these people describe the pain as being more constant as opposed to flaring up with two thirds of them suffering for longer than five years. Chronic pain impacts the sufferer in their lifestyle in ways such as their sleeping habits, exercise, ability to concentrate, function at work and home and emotionally in a manner that they’re unable to deal and have depression.
While there are many solutions to addressing this pain, each individual will react differently to various types of treatment and the two obvious categories for solving the pain dilemma are non-surgical and surgical pain treatment. Since most people wait at least six months before seeing a physician because they feel it isn’t serious enough, according to the APS study, the pain has escalated to new levels and is harder to treat.
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Most accredited physicians will prescribe surgical treatment only unless it is necessary. Some patients will take any type of treatment to clear the pain, and methodologies for non-surgical treatment are available. Medications, including over-the-counter (OTC) analgesics and prescription drugs, are the more popular method to handle the pain. A pain management physician, an orthopaedic surgeon or neurologist would be a more effective specialist to see for chronic pain as these specialties can look for the correct diagnosis and the processing of such pain. A hot/cold pack is an extra non-surgical treatment that patients will turn to for relief. The APS study found that the non-medicinal therapies provided more relief than the OTC medicines. Massage, physical therapy involving stretching and muscle build-up, joint mobilization, back supports, electrical nerve stimulation, traction, and proper rest can all come into play for non-surgical pain treatment.
Surgical pain treatment doesn’t necessarily mean full anesthesia and a huge incision. Minimally-invasive surgical techniques and steroid and anesthetic injections can be carried out at a physician’s office or outpatient center with the patient going home after a few hours of treatment. Minimally invasive spinal fusion corrects congenital deformities such as scoliosis, with a goal in order to reinforce the spine and alleviate irritated nerves.
Both physicians and dentist can be helpful with a wide range of treatments for all these problems. Such treatments for TMJ syndrome at it’s symptoms include special TMJ strengthening exercises, vitamins, night-guard mouthpieces, corrective operations, bite therapy, and medications, and minerals that provide anti-inflammatory benefits.
Kyphoplasty treats spinal fractures caused by osteoporosis, hypothyroidism, or cancer, and uses orthopaedic balloons and bone cement to strengthen the spine. Intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDET) is a different type of treatment that heats a needle to a maximum temperature and inserted into a catheter in a patient with a bulging vertebral disk in the back. The heat strengthens the wall of the disk, to reduce the pressure applied to the nerve. Vertebroplasty is used on a back with spinal degeneration in which the disc has broken down. Bone cement is injected into the vertebra and stabilizes the bone.
If surgery is warranted, depending on the diagnosis and the status of the patient, few of the procedures considered would be discectomy, disc replacement, a laminectomy, or more invasive spinal fusion.
A qualified physician will be compassionate in addressing the pain and will prescribe non-surgical or surgical pain treatment that will give relief, as with any treatment for chronic pain.