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What should you know about pain killers after surgery?

Recovering from major surgery is an active process that typically takes 6 weeks. Surgical pain is normal and expected, but the pain experience may be different for individuals. Since pain can interfere with your ability to participate in activities to prevent complications (coughing, deep breathing, walking), treating pain is critically important for a successful surgical recovery. Many patients are afraid to take prescription narcotics or “pain killers” because they do not want to become “addicted.” However, untreated pain can lead to the development of permanent pain pathways to the brain, which can delay your recovery and possibly even result in chronic pain.

Narcotic use varies among individuals and there is a big difference between drug dependence and addiction. Dependence is when the body has become accustomed to the medication. This can occur anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks after you start taking pain killers regularly, like after surgery. Addiction, however, generally implies that the medication or substance is interfering with your life in some way. You can become dependent on pain killers during your surgical recovery, but with medical management of your withdrawal from these medications, you will avoid addiction. It is important to use your prescription pain killers as directed to avoid overuse. On the other hand, you do not want to avoid using pain killers when you need them to remain comfortable and active. Stopping your pain killers “cold turkey” can be dangerous and it may cause considerable discomfort. The surgical team will work with you to develop a plan to wean you off your pain killers gradually and safely, at a time when you are ready.

The universal goal is to taper as quickly as your physical, mental and emotional status allows. Since there is ....

Steroid Injection Safety and Recent Spinal Meningitis Cases

During the past several weeks there has been much in the news about contaminated steroid compounds being used by pain management clinics around the country for steroid injection procedures. The result has been a significant number serious spinal meningitis cases, including some fatalities, in patients who received these injections. These tainted compounds have all been traced to a single company, the New England Compounding Center, located in Massachusetts. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) none of these compounds were shipped to Washington State. Nonetheless, this has raised questions of steroid injection safety among many patients who have received them as part of their pain management regime.

Steroid injections for the reduction of pain in specific areas have been used safely for decades by pain management specialists. They have been shown to be a viable and effective treatment option for a large number of patients who could not find adequate pain relief through other less invasive treatment methods. The issue surrounding the current crisis is not one of steroid injection safety or efficacy so much as it is one of ...

What is Pain Management About? (Part 2 of 2)

 A comprehensive approach to chronic pain management is more effective than medical management alone.

What is Pain Management About? (Part 1 of 2)

Patients in chronic pain come to their doctor to find relief and often have different expectations, and sometimes a less than complete understanding of what pain management constitutes.

Comprehensive Spine Center at SNI

Neck pain and low back pain are common health problems in the US. They are among the top reasons for doctor visits. They are also the number one cause of disability for people under 45 years of age in the US. The Comprehensive Spine Center at SNI consists of spine surgeons, physiatrists, interventional pain specialists, neuroradiologists, and physical therapists. All these spine specialists can provide the best and most advanced spine care to our patients in the same clinic. We strive to make spine care as convenient as possible to our patients.

The spine center at SNI provides a wide spectrum of surgical procedures to treat spine disorders caused by degeneration, neoplasm, infection, congenital malformation, and trauma. We distinguish ourselves not only by providing superb care to our patients, but also driving new technologies in spine surgery. SNI is the leading center in large clinical trials for cervical artificial disc implants and lumbar artificial facet joint implants. These new spine devices may revolutionize the future of cervical spine and lumbar spine surgeries and further develop motion-preservation technology.

We also provide minimally invasive spine surgery to our patients with appropriate indications. The minimally invasive spine surgery includes lumbar fusion surgery, microdiskectomy and kyphoplasty. With the newly-added state-of-the-art equipment at SNI, we believe the development of the new technology will push minimally invasive spine surgery to a higher level.

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