Kaye brings a fresh new approach to Eye Opener. While our firm’s members have been practicing in the field of medical negligence litigation for decades, it is exciting for us to have someone, who actually gives care to patients in the real world of medicine, periodically provide insights and knowledge to you, our readers, on matters that may affect your daily lives or the life of someone you know and love.
With that said, we present Kaye’s initial blog for Eye Opener - a topic that affects many people every day of their lives – chronic pain.
Intractable or chronic pain was once a condition an individual simply had to learn to live with. The economic, psychosocial, and physiological effects of chronic pain are far-reaching. Medical advances in pain control management can now afford patients complete or partial relief of their pain in lieu of invasive surgical procedures. When given an informed choice, many people prefer this more conservative route of therapy.
Epidural steroid injections, facet and medial branch blocks, and stellate ganglion blocks are a few of the options that can be life savers for patients suffering the consequences of chronic pain (lasting more than 3 months). The procedure may be done under local anesthetic or with the assistance of IV sedation. When aided by fluoroscopy (specialized x-ray), the medication can be directed at the site with reduced risks/complications. Undesirable side effects can include:
- Increased pain
- Elevated blood glucose
- Loss of function in the extremity or extremities
- Temporary weakness/numbness from the neck down
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Nerve injury
- Reaction to medications
- Hematoma (bleeding)
- Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)
The procedure is usually performed by an anesthesiologist or radiologist. Anesthesiology is a highly skilled, and many times overlooked, discipline in the medical field; a topic I will address at a later time. Injections are usually done in a series of three in order to achieve optimal outcome. Positive effects may start to present immediately after the first treatment or may not appear until the series is completed.
As with any medical procedure, it is imperative the patient is forthcoming regarding medical history. This includes a list of present medications as well as use of other drugs, legal and illicit. One should not discount the effects of herbs and over-the-counter medications as harmless and not worthy of mentioning to the health care provider. Make sure you do so.
One anesthesiologist estimated that 50-60% of his patients were in his clinic for less than honorable aspirations. For this type of patient, the pain goes much deeper…deeper than any pill or injection the health care facility can provide.
If you are truly suffering from chronic pain, consider discussing treatment alternatives with your physician. Be aware of the risks, benefits and alternatives and make a wise, informed choice.