New Advances in Pain Treatment Bring Hope For Accident Victims
Intro by David Chester Ohio brain injury lawyer
If you've been in a vehicle accident, new advances in pain treatment should be of interest to you. This article covers some of the newest advances that may help you tame the pain beast so you can get on with your life. If you've been in a serious car, truck or motorcycle accident make sure to contact a Brain injury lawyer as soon as possible to see if you qualify for a Personal injury settlement.
by Susan Ardizzoni Ph.D.
If you've been in a serious car, truck or motorcycle accident, no doubt you've experienced severe pain that can last a lifetime. Recent advancements in sophisticated pain therapies are available from drugs, electrical stimulation, and mind altering therapies to surgeries to provide chronic pain relief.
Many of these advancements have become available in the past few years and some are currently finishing in clinical trials. These medical techniques have come about due to years of research into the understanding of chronic pain and how it develops. Pain specialist understand how the nervous system including the spinal cord, interacts with the brain to create pain sensation.
Neurotransmitter systems have been studied associated with pain giving insight into manipulating these systems to change how they interact with the brain. This has brought about the use of antidepressants and other drugs that effect our emotions and help cope with the perception of pain.
Advances in brain imaging provide proof that these changes are real and we can know exactly where these sensations are taking place. You can see the effects of pain on your emotions and your emotions on pain.
A new process known as central sensitization has come to light which demonstrates that if initial pain from an injury is not adequately treated these pain signals will continue and make changes in the nervous system making you more sensitive through time.
New treatments serving moderate-to-severe chronic pain use a number of different treatments including oral drugs, electrical stimulation, pain pumps, psychotherapy, relaxation techniques and alternative therapies to combine a mind-body approach in the relief of chronic pain.
The first step in chronic pain relief involves the use of oral medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like Advil, Motrin, Naprosyn and Voltaren. The NSAIDs reduce inflammation which relieves pressure on your nerves taking away pain. These are good for arthritis, tendinitis, nerve injury and muscle pain. This is usually a trial-and-error process and is tailored to the individual. These mild pain relievers come over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription forms as well.
If pain is severe, stronger medications are used:
- Anticonvulsants – These drugs treat seizure disorders but have been found effective on chronic pain. Mechanism is not well understood. Some name brands include Lyrica, Neurontin and Tegretol.
- Antidepressants – This treats chronic pain whether you have depression or not. Examples of these drugs include Elavil, Pamelor and Norpramin. These drugs affect the levels of norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. Another anti-depressant is Cymbalta that inhibits the uptake of norepinephrine and serotonin leaving the neurotransmitters around longer which elevates your mood and relieves pain.
- Narcotics – Narcotics (opioids) are serious pain medicine and reserved for the worst chronic pain. Examples include codeine, fentanyl, morphine, and oxycodone. These drugs work on pain receptors. Narcotics are often prescribed with antidepressants which reduces the amount of the narcotic you need.
- Ultram ER – This is non-narcotic drug that works on opioid receptors. This is used for moderate to severe chronic pain when continuous relief is needed. This doesn't have the risk of addiction. This drug is generally used before progressing to narcotics.
- Steroids – Injections and nerve blocks are particularly effective for acute pain and people with pinched nerves. This reduces inflammation and can prevent chronic pain from developing.
Other procedures that can be used when oral drugs or steroid injections are not quite doing the job include outpatient procedures with electrical stimulation and implant devices and are listed below:
- Radiofrequency ablation – This is an outpatient therapy. Nerve tissue is heated in a small area. A needle is inserted at that site and zapped with an electrical current (radio wave) in a heat-and-destroy method. The procedure uses a CT image for guidance. Chronic pain relief can last from 3 to 6 months.
- TENS – Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is good for short-term relief. Large units are available with a health-care provider and there are small units you can purchase to use at home. This device delivers a low-level of electrical current across the skin in the affected area to block pain. This is good with muscle and nerve pain.
- Pain pacemakers – This is a device that is implanted in the body for spinal cord stimulation. This blocks pain signals from reaching the brain. The patient has the ability to adjust the intensity of signals and turn it off and on. This is generally used when other treatments have failed such as medications and surgery.
- Spinal drug pumps – This is an implanted pump that can deliver pain medications to the spinal cord. Narcotics, steroids, anesthetics and other pain relievers can be pumped into the sensitive area with a push of a button.
If all else fails surgery may be required but is always done as a last resort.
The newest of relatively noninvasive surgical procedures is known as the AccuraScope Procedure. This is particularly good for lumbar pain and has met with great success in the two years it has been around.
If you've been in a car, truck or motorcycle accident and your brain/spinal injury was caused by the carelessness of another person, you may be entitled to financial compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages. These types of accidents often involve long-term rehabilitation and pain management so you need to consider continued medical care and loss of your ability to earn wages in the future. You should contact an experienced Brain injury lawyer at the Chester Law Group. This Ohio personal injury law firm is experienced in car, truck and motorcycle accidents involving spinal/brain injury and can guide you through a Personal injury settlement. It is important that you consult with an attorney before you attend a Defense Medical Exam (DME) and don't ask a doctor for advice. Your Brain injury attorney will advise you every step of the way.