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General Health Channel
Reported August 15, 2012

The Chronic Pain Eliminator! -- Research Summary

BACKGROUND: Chronic pain can be mild or excruciating, episodic or continuous, merely inconvenient or totally incapacitating. With chronic pain, signals of pain remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months, or even years. This can take both a physical and emotional toll on a person. The most common sources of pain stem from headaches, joint pain, pain from injury, and backaches. Other kinds of chronic pain include tendinitis, sinus pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and pain affecting specific parts of the body, such as the shoulders, pelvis, and neck. Generalized muscle or nerve pain can also develop into a chronic condition. Because of the mind-body links associated with chronic pain, effective treatment requires addressing psychological as well as physical aspects of the condition. ( Source: WebMD)

SYMPTOMS: The symptoms of chronic pain include mild to severe pain that does not go away, pain that may be described as shooting, burning, aching, or electrical, and feeling of discomfort, soreness, tightness, or stiffness. Pain is not a symptom that exists alone. Other problems associated with pain include fatigue, sleeplessness, withdrawal from activity and increased need to rest, weakened immune system, changes in mood including hopelessness, fear, depression, irritability, anxiety, and stress, and disability. (Source: www.webmd.com)

TREATMENT: Medications, acupuncture, local electrical stimulation, and brain stimulation, as well as surgery, are some treatments for chronic pain. Some physicians use placebos, which in some cases has resulted in a lessening or elimination of pain. Psychotherapy, relaxation and medication therapies, biofeedback, and behavior modification may also be employed to treat chronic pain. (Source: http://www.ninds.nih.gov)

NEW TECHNOLOGY: A neurostimulator is a surgically placed device about the size of a stopwatch. It delivers mild electrical signals to the epidural space near your spine through one or more thin wires, called leads. The electrical signals cause a tingling sensation in the area of your chronic pain. Neurostimulation provides pain relief by blocking the pain messages before they reach the brain. In other words, it outsmarts your pain. Instead of pain, you feel a tingling sensation.

You can adjust the strength and location of stimulation using a handheld programmer. For example, you can regulate different levels of stimulation at different times of the day or for various activities – such as walking, sleeping, or sitting. If your neurostimulator features AdaptiveStim™ technology, then it will automatically adjust stimulation when you are upright (sitting or standing), lying down, or active while in an upright position.

A complete neurostimulation system includes several components:

Neurostimulator: The device that generates the electrical impulses (usually placed under the skin in your abdomen or upper buttock).

Leads: Thin, insulated medical wires that deliver electrical pulses to the epidural space near the spine.

Physician's programmer: A computer at your doctor's office that lets your doctor adjust the neurostimulation system and its settings

Patient's programmer: A handheld device you can use at home to customize the stimulation

The neurostimulation system does not make any noise. It may be felt as a small bump under your skin, but does not normally show through your clothes. (Source: http://www.medtronic.com) MORE

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