Opioid medication is not the only solution for chronic back pain relief, Dr. Wong says there are alternatives available to you.
Chronic spinal pain can be completely debilitating, taking a huge emotional and physical toll on a person especially when it seems that there is no end in sight. Often patients who see Dr. Wong have been prescribed opioid medication as a first and only treatment option and have been taking opioids for an extended period of time.
“I was expecting to see a GP and be told how to figure it out, but to be told it was incurable and degenerative and we’ll have to keep you on oxycodone and pregablin for a while was a huge shock.” – Bendigo Advertiser
Whether you are looking at initial treatment options or have been taking opioid medication for an on-going issue for some time, there are alternative treatment options in pain management available to you. And, most importantly, with the right approach we believe you can identify and resolve the root cause of the pain.
Dr. Wong believes most importantly that there needs to be a correct diagnosis of the root cause of the pain as a first step. Alternative treatment options including surgery may fail if the correct cause isn’t identified. And similarly with correct diagnosis, an efficient and effective treatment plan can be mapped out for the patient.
‘‘Somehow when it comes to spine, the investigation part is missing. People don’t want to find out the cause. They’re placed on strong pain medication for a long time and I think, in a good proportion of patients, that’s the wrong treatment.’’ – SMH
Proper investigation is key to a correct diagnosis and therefor treatment plan. It should always be a warning signal for patients if there is no detailed investigation into their pain before treatment is prescribed, especially in the case of an opioid prescription. There are a number of investigation methods we can use to determine what the source of the pain may be for chronic spinal pain:
Plain X-Ray – Will identify fractures or any bone abnormalities. An X-Ray will show the alignment of the spine so can be a good first investigation method.
CT Scan – Used for looking at discs in the spine, and will identify herniated discs. A CT Scan will show bone density, blood vessels and tissue.
Nuclear Bone Scan – A bone scan will show abnormal bone growth, infection, metastases, looking in detail at the condition of the bones. A radioactive dye is injected into your bones.
MRI Scan – An MRI takes a clearer picture than an X-Ray or CT scan and is ideal for diagnosing problems in soft tissue like the discs in the spine and/or the spinal cord and nerves.
EOS Scan – Reduced X-ray dose absorbed by the patient in a sitting or standing position when compared to an X-Ray or CT Scan.
Diagnosis & Treatment Plan
With a proper diagnosis comes a treatment plan. Dr. Wong believes that a patient should be presented with the right treatment option specific to their pain.
‘‘It’s not logical that there should be more than one‘ ‘best’ option. There is just the best option – or nothing. ‘Sometimes it has been suggested to a patient that they could have, for example, decompression or fusion. Well, that’s untenable. The only option should be the best treatment.” – The Age
A multi-disciplinary approach may be beneficial however there should be a singular solution to the issue within each realm of treatment, otherwise it becomes a “guessing game”.