There are many different treatment options for those suffering from chronic pain, each having different levels of success depending on the person and the underlying condition.
MedRay Imaging in Coquitlam is introducing a new therapy called image-guided pain management injections. According to Medray COO, Randy Webster, it’s a form of treatment that can be highly effective for those suffering from chronic back, neck or joint pain.
“Many people notice significant improvement after 1 or 2 treatments, and some require ongoing treatments 3 or 4 times per year,” he says. “They can play with their kids again, go back to work, and engage in physical activity that they otherwise couldn’t.”
As everyone is different, it is important for patients to find the therapy that works best for them and their situation. According to Webster, there are primarily four types of treatments available for people suffering from chronic pain:
1. Paramedical services. These include acupuncture, physiotherapy and massage therapy. They can take the edge off the pain and help resolve a number of mobility issues, but may not help address the underlying reason for chronic pain, Webster says.
2. Pain medication.Opiates and pain suppressors are a very effective treatment option for patients with high levels of pain, but can lead to other health problems if taken for extended periods of time, such as gastro-intestinal issues, liver problems, or the potential for addiction. Furthermore, their effectiveness can wear off over time.
3. Blind injections. Physicians inject medicine in the pain site, without image guidance. They hit the right spot a good portion of the time, according to Webster, but without image-guidance, there is the risk the injection misses the mark.
4. Guided injections. These injections use specialized equipment (C-arm fluoroscopic and ultrasound machines) operated by physicians. With the help of live x-ray or ultrasound technology to ensure the needle enters the appropriate site, the physician injects a small amount of contrast agent to confirm the needle is properly positioned. Finally, the physician injects local freezing, such as a corticosteroid or a hyaluronan agent. It can be highly effective in treating chronic pain, as well as a helping those people who are on waiting lists for surgery (as well as those for whom surgery isn’t an option).
MedRay Imaging is launching image-guided pain management services in June, says Webster. The guided injections are covered by the Medical Services Plan of B.C., and the medication can be covered by extended health insurance plans.