Imagine … three failed back surgeries and two decades on opiates. Some, who have never experienced chronic, incapacitating pain, might be inclined to say, “Just suck it up.” But this man’s pain was so severe, so debilitating that not only did he have to give up coaching his then-adolescent daughter’s sports activities, but he couldn’t even enjoy a movie out with the family. Ever. Sitting would become excruciatingly painful – so lying on the floor was the norm – and pills to take the edge off. Yet, after a 20-year sentence, this patient is finally free of painkillers’ shackles because of treatment at Pain Stop North Phoenix.
Cutting to the chase: Avoid surgery
A good surgeon will ensure that the patient has tried everything before going under the knife – because surgery is not a guarantee of the cessation of pain. Think about it: The surgeon is cutting, going inside, moving things around. Of course that’s going to cause additional inflammation – and sometimes additional pain that persists after the recovery period has passed.
- If you make a decision to have surgery to correct back pain, for example – such as a spinal fusion – you need to ask about worst-case scenarios should the surgery be unsuccessful – and be able to live with those consequences.
- For any pain, it’s important to start with the most conservative, least-invasive procedures possible.
- Consider a clinic that specializes in pain, rather than a jack-of-all-trades office or pill-mills. That office should have trained and certified staff able to offer myriad treatment options under one roof.
Is the post-op pain now permanent?
About 15 percent of Pain Stop North Phoenix patients have had surgery – resulting in pain that persevered. While some might believe that surgery was the final option and now there are no other choices but to live with the chronic pain, that simply is not true. Certainly, it’s preferable to treat the pain successfully to avoid surgery in the first place. But there are definitely options after the fact, options that will be discussed by your medical provider that take into account the procedures you’ve had performed and the pain that still persists. Among them:
- Injection protocols, including epidural and facet injections, as well as trigger point injections, with adaptations made, if necessary, such as injecting into the surrounding tissue of a knee replacement rather than the “new” joint.
- Physical medicine modalities
- Supervised stretching
- Massage therapy
- Radiofrequency neuroablation
- Chiropractic therapy
- Weaning patients off narcotics. After all, how can long-term use to control pain not affect the body in other unwanted ways?
It all comes down to 45 minutes. That’s about the time it will take for a complimentary consultation that begins with a problem-focused exam by my husband, Pierce Waychoff, DC.
Today, that patient with three failed surgeries and 20 years on opiates is enjoying a life again that had become a vague memory. He’s more active because he no longer has to figure out how to function while taking into account pain and/or painkillers. He plays golf, and yes, might experience a flare-up when he overdoes it. So he’ll follow up as needed – and be back in the game again in no time. As you can be.
By Erin Waychoff, DC
Owner of Pain Stop North Phoenix