Almost every movement of her body caused Elaine Peladeau pain to varying degrees – a manageable twinge when sitting in a chair at work, a full grimace-producing tremor when walking.
Over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers worked for a while, but the pain in her lower back and sciatic area from spinal stenosis and neuropathy had become intolerable. Another doctor suggested Elaine try an appointment with a physician who specializes in relieving pain, especially chronic pain.
“Chronic pain – whether it’s from a back injury, sciatica, cancer, or migraines – can really limit a person’s life. Everything they do must be planned with the pain in mind,” says Lyudmil Todorov, MD of the Center for Pain Management at Memorial Hospital. He adds that chronic pain can stem from disorders of the neck, back or chest, injuries, or surgery.
Once other treatments have been tried and eliminated, patients can find pain relief in such treatments as:
- Epidural infusions or nerve blocks injected in a specific area to block the pain.
- Injection therapy in which local anesthetics, sometimes combined with a corticosteroid, are injected around nerve roots or into muscles and joints to relieve irritation, swelling and/or muscle spasms.
- Physical and occupational therapy.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) which uses a small battery-operated device to stimulate nerve fibers through the skin.
For Elaine, nerve blockades helped immensely, allowing her to do all the activities she enjoys without pain.
“I was in quite a bit of pain all day long. I had people tell me to be careful about injections but I think if you can do something to alleviate the pain, even just a little bit of it, you should try it,” she says.