Pain Relief: Just When You Thought You've Tried Everything

Recovering from injuries is a process.  Now there is finally a way to expedite that process so you can get back to doing the things you love, pain free.

For generations, the go to method for treating pain has remained mostly the same: prescriptions, over-the-counter painkillers, and cortisone shots.  In the last few years we have seen an emergence of less invasive and more effective ways to combat pain, especially chronic pain.  In the process, our global understanding of pain has drastically shifted as well. As it turns out it’s not always the musculoskeletal component that’s the issue, but instead, the nerves.

The funny bone is not so funny.   

When people meet me for the first time and I tell them that as a doctor I specialize in pain management, the first thing that usually comes out of their mouth is “I’ve tried everything and nothing has helped.” No athlete likes to get injured and go through a lengthy recovery process. We all want to recover quickly and not experience lingering pain post injury.

Let me share you my experience. 

A few years ago I found myself trapped.  I went from training and doing multiple alpine climbs back to back to sitting out most weekends.  The hip flexors on my right side along with my calves, rhomboids, teres major and minor, and IT band were not happy with me.  In fact, they were pretty pissed off.

Injuries happen whether or not we do our best to prevent them.  If you push yourself, you are at a higher chance of getting an injury, which is what I did.  I did my 10 weeks of rehab and it helped tremendously, but then I was a slave to my foam roller and my rehab exercises. I was mostly pain free, but I could not go for a jog or commit myself to a climb without having to do 30 minutes of rehab.  That was not sustainable, and I am sure it's not for most people.

Athletes know that the combination of physical therapy and sports medicine is essential to correct musculoskeletal integrity, strengthen any weaknesses in the body, and prevent other injuries from happening.  Physical Therapists and Chiropractors are some of my best friends when it comes to providing quality care for the injured athletes and weekend warriors alike.  However, they are not equipped to manage chronic pain due to injured nerves. 

We find that an injury may get better with traditional physical therapy, massage, and chiropractic work, but never recovers completely.  The chances are that the musculoskeletal component is taken care of, but you’ve got some irritated nerves that are constantly firing even though the trauma is gone. 

It does not take much to injure and to aggravate the neural tissues as you’ll find out in a little bit, but there is finally a solution for the nagging pain you’re having.  Thinking about that next event you want to train for? The good news is that It’s possible.

Extensive research has found that 80% of pain is neuropathic or originates from the nerves.  It is not our joints or muscles that are hurting, it is the nerves. 

Treating neuropathic pain and neurogenic inflammation with what is called Perineural Injections (previously called Neural Prolotherapy, not to be confused with Prolotherapy), discovered by the medical doctor, John Lyftogt, has been found to be more effective and curative than most pain management therapies and drugs currently available.  

I decided to try the Perineural Injections myself, since that is something I had just discovered as a doctor, and I was getting extensive training in. 

Here’s how it works:

Cutaneous nerves, the ones closer to the surface of our skin, are the most commonly involved nerves in sending the pain signal.  We are used to hearing about the different muscle fibers we have, well nerves have different fibers too.  Cutaneous nerves carry C-fibers and are easily damaged by very little pressure.  Over a period of time, the wear and tear plus injuries aggravate these nerves and cause chronic pain.  

If you are up for an experiment, next time you get a delicious and super spicy meal, see if drinking something sweet like water and sugar will take away the burning sensation of the spicy food. The burning and pain that you feel is due to activation of the same receptors located on the nerves that are involved in chronic pain, and the sugar shuts off these receptors. 

Perineural Injection Therapy works in a similar way as the sugary water.  It uses a small concentration of glucose in the form of dextrose injected near the nerves to stop the pain signal, decrease inflammation, and allow healing of the injured nerve to happen.

In my experience as a doctor and an athlete,  I find Perineural Injection Therapy to be highly effective in treating 80% of pain complaints, especially when nothing else has helped or has helped, but not completely. If pesky injuries never seem to go away regardless of what you do, it’s time to do something different.

At Proactive Health, Dr. Elena Zinkov specializes in acute and chronic pain management.  She provides alternative pain relief therapies that focus on getting to the root of the problem.  Dr. Elena provides a valuable step by step approach to getting rid of pain, so that her patients become pain free and healthy.  Learn more and schedule your appointment to start enjoying a pain free life.