Some Treatments Explained Epidural Injection
When certain medical conditions, such as slipped disc, cause irritation of one or more nerve roots exiting from the spine, the result is usually pain radiating down one or both legs, also known as Sciatica.
This may be relieved by a series of injections (3 - 4 injections, 3 - 4 weeks apart) containing a steroid (strong anti-inflammatory medication), the purpose of which is to bathe and calm the irritated nerve roots in the epidural space ,just inside the bony spine.
This can safely be done by injecting at one point in the tail bone, after a suitable local anaesthetic. The client is able to walk as normal, minutes after the procedure. Side effects are usually not troublesome and complications are rare.
Nerve Blocking Injections
Whether a nerve root has become irritated at the spine as above, or a more peripheral nerve has become trapped such as at the elbows, wrists, legs or ankles, it may be possible to inject a suitable solution around the particular nerve structure involved. This relieves the pain, discomfort and tingling sensations usually associated with such "nerve entrapments".
Sclerosant Injections OR Prolotherapy
This injection treatment encourages the growth of new collagen fibres close to the site of the injection, and thus is used to strengthen ligaments. When softening and weakness of ligaments makes them unable to give their usual support to joints, this leads to pain and instability.
Prolotherapy, in conjunction with appropriate muscle strengthening exercises, can return stability and comfort and has been used successfully in a variety of areas, includng the shoulder, the neck, the lower spine and tailbone. Usually a course of three of four injections is required.
The injections do cause some temporary discomfort and aching, and this is relieved by simple painkillers for a few days. Complications are very rare and the maximum benefit is usually achieved in six to eight weeks.
When certain joints have become stuck, are not in their correct position or alignment, or do not move correctly, they are said to be "dysfunctional". This can lead to great discomfort, including spasm of the surrounding muscles, and some degree of disability. This occurs most commonly throughout the length of the spine, and can be the cause of neckache, backache, and even migraine, chest and abdominal pain, and pain on walking.
Manual medical manipulation is sometimes all that is necessary to relieve the pain and discomfort and achieve normal functioning. The manipulations are in many cases similar to osteopathic or chiropractic manipulations.
Trigger Point Acupuncture OR IMS
Many chronic pain conditions, such as Fibromyalgia, Myofascial Pain Syndrome, Repetitive Strain Injury, respond well to this therapy.
Since the pain from these conditions is thought to arise from distinct regions within the muscle known as trigger points, Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) to desensitise those trigger points can be an effective treatment.
Although there are several ways of desensitising the trigger points, for example with local anaesthetic, steroid, and botulinum toxin (see below), the most common method is simple stimulation with acupuncture needles. The method has thus become known as Trigger Point Acupuncture. Interestingly, more than 80% of the trigger points correspond exactly to those points used in Eastern meridian-based acupuncture.
Botulinum Toxin is used to achieve a longer term relaxation of painful muscle conditions, whether caused by recognised neurological conditions such as Hemifacial Spasm and Multiple Sclerosis, or Fibromyalgia and Chronic Myofascial Pain.
The toxin is derived from the Botulinum organism and is used to achieve partial paralysis of muscles - exactly in the same way as when used to abolish skin wrinkles, a cosmetic procedure which has popularised the substance.
When, in the chronic pain conditions mentioned above, the toxin is injected into painful trigger points, long term alleviation of the pain may be achieved.
TENS and TSE
TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) and TSE (Transcutaneous Spinal Electrostimulation) are both machines designed to electrically stimulate nervous pathways involved in the inactivation of pain, via pads or electrodes which are attached directly onto the skin.
Although they appear to be similar, each has differing electrical characteristics, and are used at different sites on the body. They consequently affect different parts of the nervous system and therefore suppress pain in different ways.
Portable machines are available for both types, so that home treatments may be undertaken.