Pain Management: Tell Me Where It Hurts, Part 3

Newscenter 11 sat in as doctors performed a kyphoplasty, a more involved procedure used to treat chronic back pain.

The patient in question has three compression fractures in his back, meaning three of the vertebrae of his spine have partially collapsed, likely due to bone loss.

"Typically, what happens with the compression fracture is folks do really well until they get the fracture, and then have severe back pain in the area of the fracture," said Dr. Eric Pearson. "The pain has inhibited the patient from doing things like working around the house, going places, and even sleeping."

Performing a kyphoplasty is the most common solution, according to Pearson.

"And basically what we're going to try to do is put a needle in the broken vertebrae. Put a little balloon in there, re-inflate the fracture line," Pearson said. "And then put some bone cement or bone glue in there and stabilize the fracture."

There is a 2-day recovery period associated with having a kyphoplasty and Pearson says 90% of patients respond favorably.

While we've shown you some common procedures doctors use to treat pain, there are also situations where prescription drugs are used to treat chronic pain.

Doctors admit there is always a concern about patients becoming addicted to that medication, but insist they properly screen patients prior to treating them in order to avoid aiding an addiction.

"I think pain medication has become more easily available, but at the same time, there is a big movement against it," said Dr. Leland Lou. "So, there is a constant battle of how do you treat pain? Can you figure out a problem? Can you fix it? Is pain a symptom? Is it a disease? Do you treat it with medicines alone? And I think sometimes that is where it becomes controversial."

But area pain specialists say the bottom line is they are confident in their ability to provide each and every patient they see with at least a short-term solution to dealing with chronic pain.

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