Our Pain Management Blog

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Symptoms of Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

If you suffer from back pain, you’re not alone. Back pain is such a common problem in the U.S. that some studies have estimated that we spend about the same amount each year for back surgeries as we do for cancer treatments!

While some back surgeries do resolve patients’ problems, that’s not always the case. In fact, continued pain after back surgery is so common that the medical professional has coined the phrase “Failed Back Surgery Syndrome,” or FBSS, and is a condition we see often at our pain clinic in Austin.

If you have undergone back surgery, but still suffer discomfort nonetheless, you could be experiencing FBSS. Here are a few symptoms to look for:

  • Significant, persistent pain in the back or leg(s) that cannot be completely relieved by medication or physiotherapy.
  • Tingling sensation and numbness in hands, legs, feet or arms.
  • Decreased mobility, including a limited range of motion in your back.
  • Weakness in legs and arms.
  • Depression and anxiety are often byproducts of the chronic pain brought about by FBSS. These conditions, in turn, can lead to abuse of alcohol or prescribed medications.

Although there is no absolute cure for FBSS – with the possible exception of additional surgery, which many patients are hesitant to do – there are ways to alleviate the pain associated with this condition. The first step is to obtain a diagnosis of the condition from your doctor. He or she will likely recommend x-rays, an MRI or a CT scan to assist in the diagnosis. Once you know you have FBSS, consider working with the trained professionals at a pain intervention center to discover how to alleviate the pain and other symptoms and return to a normal lifestyle.

For more information, continue reading here.

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Fibromyalgia Coping Tricks

Are you tired of being in pain? Perhaps an attitude adjustment would be enough to make those waves of pain to wane for an extended period. It’s true; it’s been proven time and time again that our moods directly affect our ability to cope with pain.

If, despite your efforts to be in a continually good mood, you find the pain will not subside, then you might consider these coping mechanisms:

‘It’s just one of those days

You say the words with a frown on your face and you know that, no matter how hard you try, you are stuck; ‘down in the dumps’. Unfortunately, there are always going to be ‘those days’ whether you are perfectly healthy or are a chronic pain sufferer. Realizing this is important, but it is also essential to remember that the sadness will not last forever; there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The Chronic Pain Bucket List

So, chronic pain isn’t going to claim your life, but there is still good reason to consider the many fun, exciting, or unusual activities that you would like to do during your lifetime. These goals can serve as the perfect distraction when the blues begin to set in. Though it will not erase the pain, it can help to keep your mind off of it.

What makes me special?

It’s an excellent question for anyone to ponder from time to time. For a chronic pain sufferer, it is easy to fall into the trap of defining his- or herself as such. Statements such as ‘I have fibromyalgia’ or ‘my back bothers me sometimes’ are fine, but often they are replaced by a mentality of ‘I am fibromyalgia’ or ‘I am back pain’. There is much more to who you are and reminding yourself of those good things is an excellent way to stay in a good mood, thereby improving pain levels.

Our pain specialists at Interventional Pain Associates in Austin not only treat fibromyalgia patients, they provide guidance and support for day to day pain management. Visit our website or call to schedule an appointment with us to find out how we can help you get the treatment you need for a better quality of life.

For more great tips for coping with fibromyalgia, continue reading here.

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Back Pain Worsened By Smoking

After years of the media, schools, and other outlets expressing the dangers of smoking, most people would suggest that tobacco causes cancer and respiratory illnesses. Unfortunately, there is a large percentage of the population still unaware of how cigarettes impact back health.

It has long been known that tobacco use can increase the likelihood of back pain and disc disease. However, more recent research is even suggesting that the habit of smoking decreases the likelihood that a back pain patient will find relief.

Nearly every adult living in this country will see a medical professional regarding back pain at some point during his or her life. However, not all will suffer with that pain chronically. Those that light up each day are more likely to suffer long term. That also means the need for treatment continues. Unfortunately, for those entering programs as smokers, the chances of finding a method of alleviating the pain are much smaller.

More than five thousand patients were followed in the study that led to these findings. All had been diagnosed with back or leg pain due to a spinal disorder and would be treated via surgical and non-surgical methods over an eight month period. Those that had never started or who had managed to kick their tobacco habits reported less pain then those still toting packs of cigarettes.

There is actually good news to be found in this study if you are a smoker and back pain sufferer. Even those patients who quit the habit during the eight month span reported better levels of improvement than those who didn’t.

Quit now, and you could finally find relief from your chronic pain. For additional help treating chronic back pain, visit our website or call our clinic to schedule an appointment.

For more information about the study, continue reading here.

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Are You a Candidate for Trigger Point Injections?

If you suffer from any form of chronic pain, it’s important to understand all the treatment options available to you. Although not every procedure will be the right choice to help to alleviate your pain, it’s definitely worth discussing the alternatives with your health care provider and pain management specialist to determine which procedures might be effective in alleviating or managing your chronic pain.

One alternative treatment that is becoming increasing popular is the trigger point injection, or TPI. This procedure is commonly used to treat painful knots around muscles that develop whenever muscles fail to relax. These knots, or trigger points, can affect surrounding nerves which in turn can result in pain in other areas of the body or “referred pain.”

The process involves a pain management specialist injecting a tiny needle containing a local anesthetic into a patient’s trigger point. The procedure takes very little time – usually just a few minutes – and the results can be dramatic. Often, the pain is immediately relieved, and the results can be long-term with follow-up treatment. At Interventional Pain Associates, we treat many patients using this procedure which you can read more about on our website.

When TPI is Most Effective

Trigger point injections are most effective in alleviating the following:
• Chronic pain in the neck, arms, legs and lower back
• Chronic pain due to fibromyalgia
• Chronic pain due to tension headaches

TPI might also be effective in combating other chronic pain conditions. For more information, and to determine if trigger point injections may help to alleviate your pain, talk to your doctor or pain management specialist.

Resource: AAFP