Painful Arthritis Can Be Addressed For Long-Term Comfort

Posted on April 12, 2019

An estimated 26 percent of adults suffer from chronic pain. Over half of those have some form of arthritis.

Arthritis comes in two forms:

OSTEOARTHRITIS – is the most common form of arthritis. It wears down the cartilage in joints that cushion the bones, eventually leading to bone grinding on bone. This can result in pain and restricted movement. Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint in the body, it commonly affects joints in the knees, hips, neck and spine.

RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS – is when the body’s immune system attacks the lining in the joints, causing swelling and inflammation. The disease process can eventually destroy cartilage and bone within the joint.

Although pain medicines can ease some discomfort, many come with side effects or have possible risks. Modern techniques and technology used in pain management can provide relief that is often long-term for many of these painful conditions.

A common source of arthritic-related pain are the facet joints in the lower spine. Each vertebra in the spine has two facet joint sets, with one that faces upward and downward. The second set is on the left and right of each vertebra. The facet joints allow for movement and flexibility.

  • Lumbar (low back) facet pain  – This typically causes pain during standing, walking, bending, doing chores or just standing still to wash dishes.
  • Facet pain in the neck  causes pain with turning or tilting the head, when driving, or neck pain that interferes with sleep.

Facet ablation (denervation) can be performed for arthritic pain in the low back or neck. It is a short 10-minute procedure once the diagnosis has been established.

In this highly-effective procedure, we use radiofrequency (heat energy) to disengage targeted nerves. This is done through a needle inserted next to the nerve while the patient is comfortably sedated.

  • Knee osteoarthritis affects over 20 percent of Americans aged 45 years or older. This occurs due to wear and tear over time as well as from obesity that leads to joint overload.

To treat knee pain, steroid injections may provide relief. Visco-supplementation is another form of injection in which a gel-like fluid is inserted into the joint. This restores increased mobility and provides a higher level of comfortable activity.

Additionally, the nerves around the knee joint, known as the genicular nerves, can be disengaged using Radiofrequency ablation. This “short-circuits” the nerves, providing pain relief for up to a year.

Steroid injections are also beneficial for some levels of arthritic pain. By injecting a steroid directly into the joint, we can calm inflammation for weeks, months or longer. For most patients, these can be repeated safely two to three times a year.

When is it time to see a doctor about painful conditions?

Our advice is to seek a doctor’s care when you are taking OTC pain medications on a regular basis or regularly using topic creams or ointments. Certainly, when pain is limiting your ability to drive, sleep comfortably, and perform day-to-day tasks, it is time to be seen by a Board Certified Pain Management physician.

During your initial appointment, we will thoroughly discuss your pain – when it began, where it originates, what makes it worse. We may review recent images you have or order specific tests so we have a clear indication of your source of pain (or to determine if more than one source is contributing to it).

We then develop an individualized treatment plan, using the most appropriate, yet conservative, measures possible to restore you to ease of motion and a life in comfort — without the need for daily pills or ointments.

For every procedure, patient safety and comfort are the highest priorities with results that enable patients (as many tell us) “I have my life back!” If you are dealing with frequent pain in the neck, low back, knees or hips, call 239-437-8000 to request more information about the new patient procedure.

Like others, we want you to get your life back!

8255 College Parkway, Suite 200, Fort Myers, FL 33919

Located in South Fort Myers on College Parkway between Winkler Road and Whiskey Creek Parkway