Spine Surgery

November 7, 2014

What to Do When Medication & Physical Therapy Stop Controlling Your Chronic Back Pain


Back pain limits your mobility and drains your energy, so if your traditional pain management techniques stop working, do not wait to find relief. Alternative treatments like spinal pain pumps or spinal cord stimulators can combat your pain quickly and effectively.

Our backs bear much of the stress of modern life, from lifting children or grandchildren to supporting us as we sit at desks, drive our cars, or stand on our feet to work and cook. It is no surprise that 80 percent of Americans suffer back pain at some point in their lifetimes, with causes ranging from degenerative disc disease and arthritis to muscle and nerve problems caused by injury. Once you have experienced chronic back pain, you know that managing the pain is the only way to get through your day. If prescription or over-the-counter medications and physical therapy stop controlling your pain, you will want to find a replacement back pain management strategy as quickly as possible.

Managing Chronic Back Pain
Although a variety of other back procedures, both surgical and non-surgical (such as medication, physical therapy, or injections), are available, two of the most effective are the spinal cord stimulator and the spinal pain pump. Both represent serious advances in modern technology. While they require surgical intervention and significant dedication to the process on the part of the patient, they can provide you with considerable relief from your back pain.

Spinal Cord Stimulators
Spinal cord stimulators are based on technology that blocks pain signals from reaching the brain. While the problem causing the pain can still trigger the same nerve signals, if they are blocked from their intended destination, then the brain never receives them. You never actually feel the pain, or at least feel less of it.

Spinal cord stimulation doses the spinal cord with low levels of electrical stimulation. To make this happen, neurosurgeons must implant the device inside the patient, often along with its power source (which can also be housed outside of the body). Once the device is inserted, you can learn to adjust the spinal cord stimulator m provide the highest level of relief.

In medical studies, this technology has proven effective: of the patients who use spinal cord stimulators, 50-60% reporting getting 50% or better pain relief. Additionally, most patients can choose to receive test devices to determine whether the spinal cord stimulator will work for them before undergoing the full surgical operation.

Spinal Pain Pumps
You can also try a spinal pain pump, otherwise known as an intra-spinal pump, which relieves pain by delivering targeted amounts of anesthetic to the affected area. These pumps can treat both pain and spasticity, a condition characterized by stiff muscles and the inability to control muscle reflexes.

Spinal pain pumps rely on reservoirs that house the pain medication and tubes that transfer the medication to a catheter inserted into the spine using the same technology as epidurals given to women in child labor. Once implanted, the reservoir is refilled by regular injections through the skin.

This treatment also comes with a trial phase, during which patients are tested for a positive response to an injection done by a lumbar puncture (also called a spinal tap). If the spinal tap works for you, a spinal pump may be an excellent choice for your back pain management.

There is no reason to suffer with uncontrollable back pain. If your medication or physical therapy has lost its effectiveness, call (877)-918-7020 or contact Arkansas Surgical Hospital and we will help you choose the best back pain management option for your particular situation. We will be happy to provide you with more information on how our staff of neurosurgeons and pain management doctors can help you control your chronic back pain today.

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