Getting Older Doesn’t Have to Mean Living with Pain

There’s no question about it, as we get older, our chances of suffering a painful medical condition go up. Some studies indicate that 50 percent of older adults live with chronic pain. The rate is even higher for those living in nursing homes.

But we don’t have to just accept pain as part of our lives. In fact, we shouldn’t. Pain comes with its own damaging side effects. It makes it harder to stay active and get a good night’s sleep and increases the risk of depression. So it’s important to take pain seriously and treat it.

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Older residents of the Phoenix metro area are fortunate that there are more options than ever today for treating pain—and they’re available right here in the Valley.

When you think of pain treatment, your first thought is probably medication. And it’s true, medication is an important component of pain treatment for most people.

But all medications—even over-the-counter ones—can have side effects, and those become even more problematic as we age. The kidneys, liver, and gastrointestinal tract don’t work as efficiently as we get older, so drugs may be absorbed and processed more slowly. On top of that, we’re more likely to suffer from several medical problems as we age, and be taking multiple medications. All of those medications can have side effects and interact with one another.

In this blog, we will look at some minimally invasive procedures that may be able to relieve your pain and lessen the need for medication. Next month, we’ll look at other alternatives, like acupuncture and physical therapy, that can help with your pain. For the best results in both controlling pain and controlling side effects, your doctor may recommend a combination of treatments.

Here is a look at just a few of the numerous minimally invasive procedures offered by Site physicians that may help relieve your pain.

Joint Injection. This treatment can bring relief to patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis pain. A joint injection contains cortisone, a steroid that helps reduce muscle pain and joint inflammation.

Vertebroplasty/Kyphoplasty. This procedure can bring relief to patients suffering debilitating back pain caused by compression fractures in their vertebrae. Both use x-ray guidance to place cement into the patient’s damaged vertebrae to stabilize the fracture and restore the spine’s height.

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Endoscopic DiscectomyIf you’re suffering from herniated discs, an endoscopic discectomy—which removes portions of the herniated disc so that compressed nerves can move back to their normal position—may help. This minimally invasive spine surgery can usually be done on an outpatient basis, so you can go home the same day of the surgery.

Botox. Believe it or not, botulinum toxin, or Botox, is not just for hiding wrinkles. A Botox injection can help with pain caused by neuromuscular disorders, myofascial pain, and chronic migraines. It does this by preventing painful muscle contractions in the face, neck, or low back.

Peripheral Nerve Block. In this therapy, a combination of local anesthetic agents is injected around the peripheral nerve branches. It can reduce the pain of different neuropathies, including peripheral neuropathy and diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The pain relief may last from a few weeks to a few months.

Spinal Cord Stimulation. In this FDA-approved, minimally invasive procedure, a nerve stimulation device is implanted that delivers low-voltage electrical currents to areas of the spine. This interferes with the ability of pain signals to reach the brain. It’s an option for patients with chronic back or leg pain who have not responded to more conservative treatments for at least six months.

IDET/Nucleoplasty. Intradiscal electrothermoplasty (IDET) and nucleoplasty are minimally invasive procedures that use heat or plasma to destroy damaged nerve fibers in the spine. Both procedures destroy damaged nerves while sparing healthy tissue.

At Site we provide more than a dozen minimally invasive procedures that can help with many different types of pain, from cancer pain and pancreatitis to complex regional pain syndrome.

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