By: Kashif Siddiqi, MD
In the last decade the abuse of pain medications like OxyContin has remained at epidemic levels. This continued societal concern has prompted the Obama administration to seek legislation requiring doctors to undergo training before being permitted to prescribe powerful painkiller medications to patients. In many cases of chronic pain, however, interventional pain management techniques can successfully relieve pain without the use of powerful opioids such as oxycodone.
The most common sources of pain, aside from headache, are related to the musculoskeletal system: back pain anywhere from the neck to mid or low back, and joint pain such as in knees, shoulders, and hips. Even in some cases of headache, the inciting cause may be in the neck. In cases like these I believe interventional pain management treatment should be explored before considering narcotic prescription medications, which come with inherent risks, side effects, physical dependency and the potential for abuse.
Interventional pain management specialists use a variety of advanced treatment options to successfully reduce chronic pain. In some cases of acute pain proper therapy, initiated early, may result in complete resolution of pain. The type of treatment used is dependent upon history and physical exam and diagnostic tests, which are used to accurately pinpoint the underlying source of pain. Diagnostic tests may include X-ray, EMG or nerve conduction tests, or MRI. Available options range from local anesthesia nerve blocks, epidural steroid injections, joint or trigger point injections to advanced techniques like spinal cord stimulation. The latter may be an option for those patients who have had back surgery but still have pain.
These therapeutic approaches, in many cases, alleviate the pain rather than masking it with prescriptions. For a very small percentage of patients prescription painkillers may be the best solution, but the majority of pain sufferers will benefit from a multidisciplinary approach to pain control. Through a combination of physical therapy, interventional pain management and judicious use of medications patients can resume their everyday activities instead of being limited by pain.
Dr. Siddiqi is board certified in interventional pain management and anesthesiology. His practice, Bay Pain Management, is located in the Medical Pavilion at Woodbridge, 740 Route 1 North, Iselin, NJ, 08830, and is affiliated with the Human Motion Institute at Raritan Bay Medical Center. To make an appointment, call 1-732-734-1310.
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