Anyone who has lived in chronic pain or has cared for someone living in constant pain knows that it is draining, emotionally, and physically. Breaking the cycle of pain is essential to any recovery, yet addiction is a real hazard of being on pain medication. You need not be ashamed if you’re on pain medications. However, if you have another method to explore, why not give it a try? Fortunately, more methods are becoming available to aid in pain management. Doctors reveal a nerve freezing treatment to eliminate pain medication.
The Cycle of Pain
Unless you have experienced long term pain or cared for someone who lived in chronic pain, you may not know how pain creates a cycle that exasperates the sensation of pain and can sabotage your ability to get out of pain. The Pain Cycle works like this:
- Develop an illness or disease, injury, or have a surgery that initiates a source of pain.
- Your muscles automatically tense up to protect the vulnerable area, which causes more pain and less ability to be mobile, which would allow therapy to decrease the pain.
- An individual becomes fearful, angry, and frustrated at the lack of mobility. Additionally, they are sleeping less, which not only increases the sensation of pain but also decreases emotional stability and cognitive ability.
- Over time, this creates depression, hopelessness, the feeling of a lack of control, and other negative feelings. The individual will feel alone and isolated. They will decrease or eliminate any social interaction furthering the isolation.
- Increased fatigue due to lack of sleep, inactivity, pain, depression, and potentially other complications from the injury or disease.
Without significantly decreasing or eliminating the pain, this cycle will continue, and the pain, decreased mobility, and emotional stress will only increase. This is why pain management is essential. An individual cannot begin to heal without being out of pain properly.
Using medication to eliminate pain
Medications are the first step we all reach for when we are in pain. Most of us are familiar with over-the-counter pain medications. We may use them for occasional aches and pains from illnesses, dental treatments, muscle strains, headaches, fevers, and mild to medium back pain. They each have their pros and cons in their use, and the effectiveness may vary per person. They consist of:
Over the Counter NSAID medicines
- Most often advised due to its lessened irritation of the stomach and decreased chance of liver damage. Many sinus and cold or flu medications commonly have this ingredient. Doctors often recommend this medicine for pregnant women or children due to fewer side effects.
- It can be more irritating to the stomach but acts quickly and doesn’t stay in the system as long. Pharmacists call it NSAID or a non-steroid, anti-inflammatory drug.
- One of the oldest pain medications. Pharmacists often recommended that patients take this drug in a buffered form to reduce stomach irritation. Additionally, they don’t recommend it for children. However, it is a proven potential quick treatment if you believe you are having a heart attack as it thins the blood, reducing blood clots.
- One of the newer NSAIDs and generally considered a preferred treatment for mild arthritis or any inflammatory condition. It might also be harsh on the stomach. Therefore, patients shouldn’t take it over extended periods.
All of these over-the-counter medications can cause liver damage or other complications to the system if they are taken too frequently and regularly. They are intended for short durations of time.
The next batch of pain killers is commonly referred to as Opioids or prescription pain killers. Currently, there is an epidemic of addiction-related to these pain killers as they can be very addicting due to their ability to block the sensation of pain to the brain and produce the sensation of pleasure.
They are commonly prescribed for a short term after a surgery or injury or if you have been diagnosed with cancer or another long term disease, which creates pain. These consist of:
- Codeine sometimes also mixed with acetaminophen
- Hydrocodone and also can be combined with acetaminophen. Usually recognized under the name of Vicodin.
- Hydromorphone or it’s brand Dilaudid
- Meperidine or its common name of Demerol
- Oxycodone or as its most commonly known, OxyContin
- Propoxyphene or the brand name of Darvon. Currently, this drug is no longer available in the United States, according to WebMD.
- This is the strongest and most addicting opioid available. It is usually reserved for cancer patients or patients with a painful terminal illness. Unfortunately, it is also mixed in illegal street drugs, adding to the opioid addiction crisis.
In addition to the risk of addiction, if used for extended periods of time, these medications can create a long list of side effects such as:
- Severe drowsiness
- Foggy thinking or impaired judgment
- A weakening of the immune system
Alternatives to eliminate pain medication
While pain medication has been the first route in handling pain, it is not always effective. Many people who live in chronic pain receive little benefit from taking pain medicine. This is especially true if the pain is due to an extensive injury or surgery. Due to this, and the addictive tendencies and additional potential health complications, alternative treatments have been devised.
One such treatment that doctors have revealed is a freezing treatment. It is known as Cryoneurolysis or Cryotherapy. In short, it is the freezing of a particular nerve bundle related to the cause of the pain. The ice acts as a nerve blocker without using any steroid, medication, or electrical stimulus.
A report was published in 2013 in Science Daily about a study performed at Stoney Brook University in Stoney Brook, New York. The medical director of the University, William Moore M.D., headed the research. The study focused on patients with neuralgia. The ending result was the patients were able to get off of or greatly decrease pain medications.
Twenty patients received cryoneurolysis treatment. Prior to the treatment, the average pain measure was between 8-10 on a pain scale. After the treatment, their pain level was down to 2.4 within the first week. Six months later, the pain did increase to about 4. The results and length of time of decreased pain do vary with each patient. Thus, the patient may need to repeat this outpatient procedure. However, some patients remain pain-free for a full year.
How does “freezing” work?
The process itself is relatively easy. Doctors identify the painful nerve bundles. Then, they insert a small probe through a small cut in the skin. They cool the probe using pressurized gas, forming icicles on the selected nerves.
Another study was performed on patients who had knee osteoarthritis. R. Radnovich of the Injury Care Medical Center in Boise, ID in 2017, and a group of other doctors from across the United States led the study. They had 150 patients who either underwent the cryoneurolysis treatment or the customary treatment. The end result was a significant decrease in pain for those who underwent cryoneurolysis for up to 150 days. There were minimal side effects, and they all resolved themselves within 30 days.
Final Thoughts on Eliminating the Need for Pain Medication
Finding effective methods to limit or halt the cycle of pain is essential to any person’s recovery and future health. While the availability of over-the-counter medications can be effective for small, short-term pain periods, using opioids for more intense and long term uses carries with them too many hazards. Those hazards include addiction, degradation of your mental facilities through extreme drowsiness, liver damage, depression, and more. Opioids are not a long term solution for conditions that we don’t have an answer for.
Doctors revealing a nerve freezing treatment to eliminate pain medication doesn’t just eliminate medication; it eliminates potential future complications and makes mobility more of a workable solution than pain medication does. Cryoneurolysis offers an alternative treatment as another nerve blocker with no medication complications and no equipment to attach to receive treatment. Side effects were minimal and easily alleviated in a short period of time. This is the kind of treatment that we want to be available, and hopefully, the full capacity of its uses will continue to be investigated.