Whether you’re a weekend warrior, a busy mom or find yourself waking up from discomfort; chronic knee, hip and shoulder pain can be a game changer when it goes from being a nuisance to truly painful and begins to limit your mobility.
Joints forge connections between bones, and since they provide support and movement, joint damage and disease can cause pain and limit mobility. A wide variety of conditions can be to blame for joint pain, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and injuries. Whether it’s in the shoulder, hip, knee, or other area, joint pain can eventually become debilitating without treatment. So, the first step to finding pain relief is to find out what is causing the pain and then determine how to treat it correctly.
Get the Right Diagnosis for Your Pain
Diagnosing joint pain begins with a physical exam and medical history. During your consultation, your doctor will ask you questions, such as:
- What symptoms are you experiencing?
- How long have you been experiencing these symptoms?
- Are your symptoms worse after activity or rest?
- Are you experiencing symptoms in any other joints?
- Do any of your family members have arthritis or other joint problems?
- Do you have other medical problems that could be causing your symptoms?
During the physical exam, your doctor will look for areas that are tender, painful or swollen, and whether the joint may be damaged. Your doctor will also ask you to stand up and move to determine your range of motion or how easily you can move around. Depending on the findings of your history and exam, your doctor may order imaging and diagnostic testing.
The Top Three Non-Surgical Pain Treatments
The good news is that a wide range of non-surgical treatment options are available for patients today. Many patients prefer non-invasive or minimally-invasive options to surgery because they either; aren’t good candidates because of their age, have other health related conditions, or have had surgery but are still in pain.
#1 – Injections of Steroids into Joints
Cortisone shots are most commonly injected into joints to help relieve pain and inflammation in areas such as your shoulder, hip, knee, ankle, elbow, spine and wrist. Injecting steroids allows doctors to deliver a high dose of medication directly to the problem area and usually are comprised of a corticosteroid medication and a local anesthetic.
Steroid injections are one of the most effective ways to decrease pain and improve function, yet they generally do not cure the illness. Because of potential side effects, the number of shots you can receive in one year generally is limited.
In general, Cortisone shots are a good option because they are a safe and effective way to decrease inflammation and reduce pain and the least invasive patient procedure.
#2 – Regenerative Medicine Techniques
Regenerative medicine now offers several solutions that offer relief to shoulder, hip and knee pain through means of natural healing.
Regenerative medicine can renew and repair joints and improve their function using platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapy injections. Purified and concentrated platelets or stem cells are injected into damaged tissue to repair and regenerate painful joints. Regenerative medicine treatments allow people previously limited by joint pain to return to their normal activities without the limitations of chronic pain.
In general, this is an exciting treatment option because patients experience pain relief as the body works with its new ability to heal and regenerate itself. Some patients need only one treatment to ensure results, while others respond best after only two or three injections of PRP or stem cells.
#3 – Cooled Radiofrequency Ablations
This procedure focuses on interrupting the pain signals to the brain by using radiofrequency energy. Pain relief is achieved by using a combination of thermal energy as well as electrical fields to deactivate the sensory nerves that supply those joints.
There are two primary types of radiofrequency ablation:
- A medial branch neurotomy (ablation) affects the nerves carrying pain from the facet joints
- A lateral branch neurotomy (ablation) affects nerves that carry pain from the sacroiliac joints.
These nerves do not control any muscles or sensation in the arms or legs, so a heat lesion poses little danger of negatively affecting those areas. The medial branch nerves do control small muscles in the neck and mid or low back, but loss of these nerves has not proved harmful.
Dr. Michael Hanes, a board-certified fellowship trained interventional pain management specialist at Jacksonville Spine an Pain Center says that, “Cooled Radiofrequency Ablations is a minimally invasive procedure and can be performed as an outpatient within 15-30 minutes. Patients can get up to 12-24 months of relief and it can be repeated as many times as needed with very safe and good results.”
There are a variety of other conditions that can also be treated with non-invasive or minimally invasive procedures. Whether your pain is coming from the shoulder, hip, knee, or other area, it’s important to discuss treatment options with your doctor before its gets so severe it limits your ability to live your life.
For more information on these procedures or for any other pain relief procedures call Jacksonville Spine and Pain Center for an appointment. Jacksonville Spine and Pain Center is also a Veterans Choice Program.