Healthwatch: Better Options for Pain Management

The newest state-of-the-art radio frequency machine for the treatment of chronic pain is in use at Rush Hospital.

Dr. Leland Lou, director of Rush Pain Management, said it makes more aggressive procedures possible without a lot of invasive surgery or scarring.

"What it does is allow us to kind of, so to speak, cauterize or burn your nerves that are beneath your skin, below the muscles without having to cut you open," Said Dr. Lou.

Lou said burning the nerve is what relieves the pain, but the intent is to avoid burning other healthy nerves, and this machine allows more pinpoint accuracy than other devices.

"It has an internal cooling system that allows us to heat a large area without necessarily getting too hot and damaging structures that you don't want to hurt," said Lou. "And for that reason it has more function than some of the other radio frequency machines available on the market. It allows us, so to speak, to try to cure people, not just to alleviate the pain and try to get through for a few months. Hopefully, you can get a lot more longer-lasting results from it."

Lou said this technique is often effective for people suffering low-back pain, headaches, arthritis, abdominal and cancer pain, and people with poor circulation.

"We're getting smarter, getting better all the time and we're trying to provide some of the best service by providing some of the best equipment to use," he said.

Lou said side effects are minimal, but include soreness for several days. The biggest problem is that some people feel so much better, they often overdo their activities. Tests will determine if you are a candidate for this type of outpatient treatment.


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