LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - You may think back pain is just a fact of life, but when it can't be controlled with over the counter pain relievers, then what?
If back pain is interfering with your daily routine, you may need to consider other options.
Dr. Bolkar Sahinler is an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist at the Lubbock Spine Institute. He says when you need more than the recommended dose of pain relievers to get relief, that's a good sign that you need to see your primary care physician to look into other options.
He says you can go directly to a pain management specialist if you like, but there are reasons for going through your primary doctor to get a referral.
Dr. Bolkar explains, "It means the patient comes with a medical history of what has already been tried to fight the pain. And any test results are included in there so there is no duplication of work."
He says there are no magic cures when it comes to pain. Instead, the trick is to learn the best way to manage pain, which is why the specialty is called pain management.
However, some people are lucky. He says, "A lot of the injections we do provide relief within a day or two and about 45 percent to 50 percent are better within a year."
For the rest, there are more options including steroids, surgery, and stimulators which are greatly improved today.
He adds, "There's also newly developed stem cell therapy that are not FDA approved yet, but we've started using and they've provided wonderful results. so there are many options."
Overall, Dr. Sahinler says it's important to weigh the risks and benefits to find the best way to manage pain so that it does not alter your lifestyle. And he says pain medication is not the answer.
"Pain medicine does not make all your pain go away. It takes the edge off but it comes with its own risk like addiction and dependency."
He wants people to know that pain doctors are not magic specialists with special privileges when it comes to prescriptions.
He says, "We are not. We are still governed by the same rules that every other doctor is. The CDC guidelines apply to us like they apply to everybody else. We just have more in our pocket to work with in terms of helping pain."
And that's the magic for some people.
But he says there is no reason for anyone to live in pain, especially since insurance covers almost every pain procedure, he says it is truly a shame that some people are hurting their quality of life by just giving in to the pain instead of learning what can be done to fight it.
Dr. Sahinler says if your pain affects your family, you're hurting yourself, socially and physically. If pain causes you to stay home and withdraw from activities because you hurt too badly to get involved, he says you could end up with cardiovascular and pulmonary issues in the long run.
The bottom line from Dr. Bolkar Sahinler, "It's so hard to make muscle but it's so easy to lose it. If you're bedridden for two weeks, you lose muscle mass. It takes a whole year of working out to put on an inch of muscle, so if you're hurting and being a couch potato, you're not helping yourself with anything."