According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, every day, more than 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) states that in 2016, 11.5 million people misused prescription opioids.
How did this happen?
According to the HHS, during the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies misled the medical community by saying that opioid pain relievers were not addictive. As a result, healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates.
This led to an increase in prescriptions of opioid medications, which in turn led to a widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids.
Fast-forward to 2017, and the HHS declared a public health emergency, which included a 5-point strategy to combat the opioid crisis.
It’s no wonder, then, that both doctors and patients alike are eager to avoid opioid prescriptions whenever possible. When it comes to chronic pain sufferers, that can be increasingly difficult.
But it’s not impossible.
Here at Southern Pain & Neurological of Louisiana, we offer an array of interventional pain therapies that provide our patients with the relief they need – and deserve – prescribing opioids as an adjunct to multimodel therapies all designed to improve function and reduce disability and pain.
What is interventional pain therapy
Interventional pain therapy treats pain with such therapies as:
- Implanted nerve stimulators
- Implanted drug delivery systems
- Nerve blocks
Implanted nerve stimulators
Implanted nerve stimulators feature a device that uses electrical impulses to block pain signals from ever reaching the brain.
By preventing pain from reaching the brain, our patients can enjoy an improved quality of life, without the need for medication in many cases. In facvt the latest stimulator operates at such high frequency that opiates are not needed.
Prior to performing this procedure, our patients are given a trial of the device. If, during this trial, the patient’s pain is reduced, then we’ll proceed with the implantation of a permanent device.
Implanted drug delivery systems
Commonly referred to as intrathecal pain therapy, these implanted drug delivery systems deliver small doses of analgesic to the pain receptors of the spinal cord.
This direct delivery blocks pain from reaching the brain.
This treatment is an effective, and safer, alternative to oral opioids because:
- We use far less medication (up to 300x less than oral) with this therapy than is typically prescribed for oral medication, because with intrathecal pain therapy, the medication doesn’t have to go through the digestive system and goes right to the pain receptors on the spinal cord.
- As a result, our patients avoid the unwanted side effects of medication (over-sedation, grogginess, etc.)
Nerve blocks + radiofrequency
Radiofrequency is when a nerve signal is deliberately interrupted by chemicals or physical agents (such as local anesthetics).
These interventions temporarily interfere with the transmission of pain signals and serve as a test before a radiofrequency. This helps our doctors determine if you’re a candidate for radiofrequency of the same nerve, which can provide long-term relief (6-18 months).
The radiofrequency signal interrupts the pain signal going from the nerve of the joint to the brain. The result should be instant, and long-term, pain relief.
Treating chronic pain without opioids
Chronic pain is one of the most difficult ailment for doctors to treat. One of the biggest challenges to overcome is the varying degrees in which chronic pain affects patients.
No two cases are identical.
For years, the solution was opioid medication. But not only do these mediations not address the true source of the pain; they often cause more harm than good.
By using interventional pain therapies, like the ones we offer in our three Greater New Orleans locations, our patients are able to regain a higher standard of living and are in better condition to pursue treatment plans (such as physical therapy) to help them address the source of their pain and improve activities of daily living.
Contact any of Southern Pain's clinics today to learn more.