More than 20% of Americans suffer from chronic pain, and about 7.5% suffer from high-impact pain — chronic pain that’s so prevalent, that it interferes with daily living activities. For acute pain, medication can be a good solution for relieving painful symptoms. But chronic pain is different.
Yes, medication can help — but because chronic pain is ongoing, most people require a lot of medication to stay comfortable. Not only can long-term use of pain medicines interfere with your overall health and wellness, but some pain medicines can become addictive, leading to a completely different — and very serious — set of problems.
Surgery is another option for many types of chronic pain. But again, surgery has additional risks and an extended recovery period.
Victor Mendoza, MD, and the team at Vulcan Pain Management help patients in Birmingham, Alabama, manage their chronic pain without long-term use of addictive medicines and surgery, focusing on an array of cutting-edge nonsurgical pain management therapies focused on the root cause of pain. Here are four techniques that could help you find relief.
1. Cervical medial branch blocks
Cervical refers to the upper part of your spine — the part that forms your neck. Your neck contains seven bones or vertebrae. Between each pair of bones is a joint called a facet joint. Medial branch nerves are tiny nerves that send sensory information — including pain signals — to and from your facet joints and brain.
A cervical medial-branch block is an injectable pain treatment that delivers medicine to these tiny medial nerves. The injectable solution includes an anesthetic to block pain and a corticosteroid medicine to reduce inflammation driving that pain.
In addition to relieving chronic pain in your neck, a cervical medial branch block can also reduce painful symptoms in your shoulders, upper back, and arms, and it may be effective in relieving certain types of headaches.
2. Facet joint injections
Facet joints aren’t just in your neck — you have a facet joint between every pair of vertebrae in your spine. Any of these joints can cause pain if they wind up compressing a nerve, become arthritic, or if normal wear and tear affects how these joints move and work.
Facet joint injections use special solutions to relieve pain and inflammation at any facet joint in your spine. The injections are delivered using a special type of X-ray to ensure the solution gets right where it’s needed.
3. Intradiscal electrothermal therapy
Facet joints form where two vertebrae meet. But in between each pair of vertebrae is a spongy disc. Discs protect your vertebrae and nerves from jolts and bumps and help your spine stay flexible.
Your lower back is one of the most flexible parts of your spine, and as a result, the discs in this part of your spine get a lot of wear and tear. Over time, discs become thin, worn, and incapable of providing your spine protection. That’s when chronic lower back pain can happen.
Intradiscal electrothermal therapy is specifically designed to treat this disc-related lower back pain without major surgery. Dr. Mendoza inserts a special probe through a tiny incision in your back. The probe delivers a “dose” of heat energy to deaden the nerves responsible for your painful symptoms while helping to heal damaged discs.
4. Erchonia laser treatments
Also called a “cold laser,” the Erchonia® laser system treats pain in your back, knee, and arm joints (shoulder, elbow, and wrist). A completely noninvasive treatment, the Erchonia laser emits specific wavelengths of laser energy that penetrate your skin without harming it.
The laser energy focuses on deeper layers of damaged tissue, triggering natural responses that help repair and regenerate new, healthy tissue. Energy pulses also help relax tense or stiff muscles that can contribute to chronic pain, and they improve circulation and blood delivery in the area.
Therapy that’s optimized for your needs
Because Dr. Mendoza offers a variety of therapies and therapeutic combinations, you can feel confident you’ll be receiving the most appropriate, most effective treatment to help relieve your pain and improve your mobility. To learn more about the nonsurgical pain management options we offer, call 205-258-7246 or book an appointment online at Vulcan Pain Management today.