Chronic pain is a public health problem. Experts aren’t sure exactly how many adults in the US have chronic pain, but estimates are between 11% and 40%. Chronic pain can be the result of a condition such as arthritis or fibromyalgia, or can be due to an injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or an injury sustained in an auto accident.
Chronic pain limits your daily life and makes it difficult for you to complete your obligations or participate in activities you enjoy. It can lead to depression — or be a result of depression — and is closely associated with opioid addiction.
At Apex Medical Center, our staff of dedicated professionals wants to help you live a full, active, and healthy life. We understand that chronic pain can make doing so difficult or even impossible. We offer numerous tools designed to help you with pain management, and many of our patients are unfamiliar with some of our techniques, such as bioelectric therapy.
Your nerves are sort of like the wiring system of your body. The impulses that move along your nerves and carry signals to and from your brain are electrical signals. Bioelectric therapy is based on the idea that those signals can be manipulated.
Biologically, pain serves a purpose. If you reach toward an open flame, the pain of a burn tells you you’re too close. If you’ve pulled a muscle, the pain tells you to stop using that muscle while it heals.
However, when you have a condition like arthritis, which is a degenerative condition without a cure, the pain signals don’t help. In fact, they may stop you from doing things like exercising, which could, in the long run, improve your symptoms. If you have an autoimmune condition, the pain signals could actually be part of an immune system malfunction.
In such cases, and many others, disrupting the signals in your peripheral nervous system can prevent pain. By stimulating a nerve or group of nerves, the electrical signals that cause you to perceive pain are disrupted. Bioelectric therapy is systematically disrupting the electrical impulses that cause pain.
Bioelectric therapy goes by many names: neurostimulation, biostimulation, neuromodulation, electroceuticals, and probably others, as well. It’s a relatively new approach to pain management, and research is ongoing.
There are different ways to deliver bioelectric therapy. You may have small leads attached to your body to carry a gentle electric current to precise locations along your nerves. Some people have devices implanted that are activated at certain times with a magnet, and sometimes bioelectric devices are handheld and the therapy is delivered in our office. Other implantable devices are activated at certain times when specific conditions are met.
Technically speaking, a pacemaker is a type of bioelectrical device. It controls the electrical impulses in your heart when certain conditions occur. Bioelectric therapy for chronic pain is similar, though it’s power to control pain is just now being explored.
Chronic pain can stem from a multitude of underlying causes, so the best plan to manage your pain depends at least in part on why you’re in pain. When you come to Apex Medical Center, we determine a plan of treatment based on your symptoms, your medical history, your lifestyle, and many other factors. Bioelectric therapy may be one piece of a larger plan.
If you’d like to learn more about our pain management services, or about bioelectric therapy, schedule an appointment at Apex Medical Center. We’re happy to answer your questions in the context of your own situation.