Living A Life With Less Chronic Pain
Chronic pain can be exacerbated by a variety of factors. However, pain can be managed with over-the-counter and prescription medicine and alternative treatment forms such as massage therapy and acupuncture. With chronic pain, however, a wide range of treatments must be applied to maximize pain relief. Treatments that focus on blocking pain signals could mean the end of chronic pain.
How does the body perceive pain?
Nerve fibers run from the spinal cord through the body to internal organs, bones, and skin. At the end of the nerve fibers, cells called nociceptors send pain signals through the nerves to the spine’s dorsal horn, which releases neurotransmitters to relay the message to the brain for processing.
Interrupting the pain signal
Rubbing the source of pain or even menthol-based topicals work by interrupting the source of the pain signal with other incoming messages. Pain-blocking techniques have developed into more refined and advanced options that can stop the pain with electrical signals. One of these options is the spinal cord stimulator.
Neuromodulation therapy utilizes devices that deliver gentle electrical impulses to the affected spinal or peripheral nerves. While the underlying mechanisms of action are unclear, the electrical impulses decrease pain by blocking pain signals to the brain. Patients no longer feel the sharp, burning, stabbing, and aching pain, but a more tolerable numbness and tingling.
What are spinal cord stimulators?
Spinal cord stimulators are a type of implanted neuromodulation device that transmits low levels of electricity into the spinal cord to reduce pain sensitivity. Thin wires, called electrodes, are powered by a small generator. The electrodes are placed between the spinal cord and vertebrae. Patients can send electrical impulses at will with a remote control and antenna pairing.
Understanding pain sensitivity and management
Spinal cord stimulators aren’t a cure-all for chronic pain but can provide the right amount of interference in brain signals to reduce the amount of pain experienced. Patients can try out a spinal cord stimulator to ensure the tingling sensation isn’t too uncomfortable. When successful, spinal cord stimulation can have up to a 70% reduction in pain. Speak with a pain management specialist to learn more about managing chronic pain.