Pain Awareness and Management (cont.)
This would be the most common application of radio frequency, although it can also be used in a special form called pulsed radio frequency, which can be used to pulse heat into a nerve, which causes the pained nerve fibers, or the portion of the nerve which signals pain, to be temporarily shut down.
The pulsed radio frequency techniques do not destroy the nerve but preserve the nerve. Later the pain nerves will start to function again, but one can expect anywhere from months to a year of relief with that type of a block, if it's very successful.
The estimate is that a milligram of morphine applied to the spinal fluid with the use of a drug pump is about 300 times more potent in relieving pain than is oral morphine. 300 milligrams of oral morphine would be equal to 1 milligram given over 24 hours in the pump.
So given this observation, pumps have been developed that can be implanted in the body to relieve all types of pain. Morphine would be the standard used in the pump but there are other medications used, too. Some of these are called additive -- additional drugs added to the morphine; these would be local anesthetics, in one case a blood pressure medication.
These are primarily to relieve nerve-related pain where the morphine relieves pain from scarred bone and ligaments. That kind of pain is called "no susceptive pain" or "receptor mediative pain," as opposed to the nerve injury pain or neuropathic pain that we spoke of earlier.
The pumps often contain more than one medication for the reason of addressing both the receptor pain and the nerve-related pain; therefore the pumps can be used for a wide range of pain. The most common applications are, however, for patients with a multiple-operated spine that has been left with severe and intractable pain of a mixed variety, nerve and receptor-related and also as a very common application with cancer-related pain.
It may have an electrical shock like feel to it, and pressure along nerves going to this area can often produce a tingling or a burning sensation or a shooting pain in the area where the nerve goes. If there is an area of numbness on the skin or if there's an area where there's weakness in the movement of the muscles there may be nerve damage involved, particularly if these findings are in the area of the nerve.
You can use the web resources from the National Pain Foundation to verify the various things available for your pain. You can chat with other people with the same pain and that can provide a tremendous support and resource for managing your pain, as well, and you may find there are things that the specialists you've seen have not offered or didn't think of, that could be available even in nearby communities.
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