Counteracting Chronic Pain
Over the past decade, researchers have made quite a few discoveries about the origins of pain, and understanding its source may lead to better treatments in the future.
Often, there are also more options for tackling chronic pain than patients are ever made aware of and, however slowly, some new options have emerged as well.
One of those new options is a drug called Lyrica (pregabalin), significant because it targets nerve pain, a type of pain not usually relieved by NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and other common treatments. Lyrica is FDA approved to treat fibromyalgia, diabetic nerve pain, spinal cord injury nerve pain and pain from a shingles attack. “It controls nerve pain and has a lower side effect profile than previous treatments,” said Giovanni Angelino, M.D., R.Ph, and pain management specialist at Northern Westchester Hospital.
Some newer treatments are aimed at rewiring brain signals, which can disrupt pain stimuli transmitted from the spinal cord to the brain. The spine, of course, is key in many pain treatments.
The spine, of course, is key in many pain treatments. For failed back syndrome patients “who have gone through one or more surgeries, chiropractic, physical therapy, injections and still failed, a spinal cord stimulator may help,” Dr. Angelino said. These stimulators involve an electrode lead in the epidural canal that basically counters the bad messages with good ones. Before the implant, patients can test out the unit by wearing it externally.
For cancer and other acutely ill patients, an intraspinal insert pump can infuse morphine and other narcotics. Another treatment for patients with acute illness is the Ganglion block.
So many of the patients living with chronic pain, though, do not have an acute illness, so their quest is for effective pain management that can be used long term, even indefinitely.
Editor’s Note: Dr. Giovanni Angelino specializes in Pain Management at Northern Westchester Hospital, Mt. Kisco NY
Read complete article in this reprint of the Bedford Record Review.