Written By Emma Sturgis / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
If you have been living with chronic pain for a long time, then you know how debilitating it can be. It is difficult to go about your daily life when the slightest movement or touch sends shooting pains throughout your body.
Fortunately, new medical technology will soon help people who suffer from chronic pain live more comfortably by reducing their reliance on opioids and other drugs. Here are ways this new medical technology can help you manage your chronic pain.
Remote-Controlled Epidural Stimulation System for the Spine
A new technology called "epidural stimulation" is being studied at Stanford University. This device would be surgically implanted near the spine and used to stimulate nerves around specific, problematic areas of the body.
The electrical stimulation helps relieve pain by reducing inflammation in surrounding tissues. It also stimulates the brain to release natural pain-killing chemicals called endorphins.
In a clinical trial involving patients with chronic pelvic pain from nerve damage, researchers reported that epidural stimulation reduced pain significantly better than a placebo treatment or traditional opioids. In many cases, the patient's need for opioid drugs was eliminated.
Another study showed that epidural stimulation can help reduce the pain of multiple sclerosis and arthritis. Epidural stimulation is currently approved in Canada and Europe for people with chronic pain from nerve damage. It is being studied in the United States to determine its effectiveness and safety for this use.
Functional electrical stimulation (FES) is a technology that uses electrical pulses to activate muscles. FES systems typically consist of electrodes implanted on or near the nerves of paralyzed muscles. A signal generator is worn outside the body and external controls such as switches or buttons allow you to turn FES on and off at will.
The same switch can be used to select which muscle groups are activated by the pulse generator. An estimated 1,600 Americans already have FES devices implanted.
The two most common uses for these systems are to help paralyzed muscles move so people can sit up and stand, or to activate abdominal muscles so people with severe constipation can go to the bathroom without assistance.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
TMS therapy involves using a device that generates strong magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in your brain. The pulses create an electrical current that passes through the scalp and skull to your brain. This stimulation can help improve mood, reduce pain, and promote healing.
TMS therapy is already approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression. A growing number of studies suggest that TMS may also help treat other conditions such as chronic pain, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and headaches.
Immersive therapeutics are one of the latest ways to manage pain. It includes using virtual reality as an intervention. Patients can use virtual reality to feel like they are in a different world and escape from the pain of their disease or condition. Companies like AppliedVR offer this type of therapy to help patients process pain in a different way.
New medical technology is helping people with chronic pain manage their condition more comfortably. Devices such as epidural stimulation, FES therapy, TMS therapy, and VR systems are providing relief from pain that traditional drugs cannot. With continued study and development, these technologies may become standard treatments for chronic pain.
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Emma Sturgis is a freelance writer based out of Boston, Mass. She writes most often on health and education. When not writing, she enjoys reading and watching film noir. Say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash