o longer is the pain just a symptom of a disease, illness or injury; it becomes an illness unto itself. Regardless of the location or cause of chronic pain, many patients with chronic pain will develop altered patterns of brain activity, which may result in occupational disabilities, insomnia, cognitive deficits, depression, anxiety, and ultimately a diminished quality of life. All too often, specific forms of pain treatment, such as medications, injections or surgery, do little to relieve the chronic pain itself, or the long-term suffering and disability that can develop.
Missouri Brain & Spine understands that recovering from chronic pain requires a multi-systems approach that addresses these aberrant patterns within the brain, as well as the emotional and physical consequences. Our primary goal is to restore functioning and emphasizes a decreased dependence of pain medications, minimize pain behaviors, and reduce the reliance of healthcare professions, thus allowing the return to a fulfilling lifestyle.
A Few of the Conditions That We Treat
Fibromyalgia (FM or FMS) is characterised by chronic widespread pain and allodynia (a heightened and painful response to pressure). Its exact cause is unknown, however its etiology is believed to involve central changes within the brain and nervous system secondary to psychological, genetic, neurobiological and environmental factors. Fibromyalgia symptoms are not restricted to pain, but may include debilitating fatigue, sleep disturbance, and joint stiffness. Some patients also report difficulty with swallowing, bowel and bladder abnormalities, numbness and tingling, and cognitive dysfunction. Fibromyalgia is frequently comorbid with psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety and stress-related disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Not all fibromyalgia patients experience all associated symptoms. Fibromyalgia is estimated to affect 2–4% of the population, with a female to male incidence ratio of 9:1.
While acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself, chronic pain is different. Chronic pain PERSISTS. Changes within the brain and nervous system cause abnormal firing within the pain modulation system, and may perpetuate for weeks, months, even years. There may have been an initial mishap — sprained back, serious infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of pain — arthritis, cancer, ear infection, but some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage. Common chronic pain complaints include headache, low back pain, arthritis pain, neurogenic pain, or psychogenic pain . Such conditions can include, but are not limited to: reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS) chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disease, interstitial cystitis, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction. While medications are often prescribed to address symptoms, the aberrancies within the brain persist.
Migraine is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent moderate to severe headaches often in association with a number of autonomic nervous system symptoms. Typically the headache is unilateral and pulsating in nature, lasting from 2 to 72 hours. Associated symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, photophobia, phonophobia and the pain is generally aggravated by physical activity. Up to one-third of people with migraine headaches perceive an aura: a transient visual, sensory, language, or motor disturbance which is associated with cortical spreading depression (CSD).
The current research supports that it is a neurovascular disorder. The primary theory is related to increased excitability of the cerebral cortex and abnormal control of pain neurons in the trigeminal nucleus of the brainstem. Some migraines may be genetic, while others may be environmental.
Trigeminal Neuralgia is a neuropathic disorder characterized by episodes of intense pain in the face, originating from the trigeminal nerve. It has been described as among the most painful conditions known to mankind. Individual attacks usually affect one side of the face at a time, lasting from several seconds to a few minutes and repeat up to hundreds of times throughout the day. The pain also tends to occur in cycles with remissions lasting months or even years. Pain attacks are known to worsen in frequency or severity over time, in some patients.
Current research indicates that it is an enlarged blood vessel compressing or throbbing against the microvasculature of the trigeminal nerve near its connection with the brainstem causing erratic and hyperactive functioning of the nerve; hindering the nerve’s ability to shut off the pain signals after the stimulation ends.
Fifty percent of all Americans will have had shingles by the time they are 80. While shingles occurs in people of all ages, it is most common in 60- to 80-year-olds. Shingles is a painful skin disease caused by a reactivation of the chickenpox virus. It is distinctive because it affects only one side of the body.
The early signs of shingles usually develop in three stages: severe pain or tingling, possibly itchy rash, and blisters that look like chickenpox. The virus that causes shingles is a herpes virus. Once you are infected with this kind of virus, it remains in your body for life. The virus hides out in nerve cells, usually in the spine. But it can become active again. Somehow, the virus gets a signal that your immunity has become weakened. This triggers the reactivation. The pain of shingles can be debilitating. If it is severe and persists for months or years, it is called postherpetic neuralgia.
Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The two most common types of arthritis are:
Osteoarthritis: The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis involves wear-and-tear damage to your joint’s cartilage. Enough damage can result in bone grinding directly on bone, which causes pain and restricted movement. This wear and tear can occur over many years, or it can be hastened by a joint injury or infection.
Rheumatoid arthritis: In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule, a tough membrane that encloses all the joint parts. This lining, known as the synovial membrane, becomes inflamed and swollen. The disease process can eventually destroy cartilage and bone within the joint.
Treatments vary depending on the type of arthritis. The main goals of arthritis treatments are to reduce inflammation and symptoms to improve quality of life.
“After the first treatment I may pain decreased almost 50%, and I took 5 steps without my walker.”
“It was the first sign of relief in 3 months.”