Pain is the perception of something that is uncomfortable. We all experience pain to a greater or lesser degree…but it is always uncomfortable. The stimulus can be triggered by anything that causes sensory nerves to fire and register discomfort in our brains.
The brain is mapped to represent various parts of the anatomy where sensations are perceived (“sensory homunculus”). Uncomfortable sensations registered there are transmitted to other parts of the brain that react negatively…sometimes triggering withdrawal, tears, depression, and other negative emotions, even anger.
Managing pain requires interrupting these neurological pathways if the stimulus that causes the discomfort endures for a period of time. If the stimulus is removed, as with a thorn, the pain ceases. If not, its messages can often be blocked. Drugs can usually block or dampen the nerve pathways temporarily. Surgery can block them permanently by cutting certain nerves. Both of these management techniques have undesirable side effects—nausea, sleepiness, slow reflexes, addiction, or in the case of surgery, inability to feel anything in the denervated part of the anatomy, whether pleasant, unpleasant or protective.
Newer technologies have been developed that can reduce the ability of sensory nerves to transmit pain signals for periods of weeks or months. Radiofrequency electromagnetic energy is used for this purpose. Radiofrequency now can be applied to many sensory nerves harmlessly through the skin without needles or incisions. Known as RelēF™ Technology (pronounced “relief”), this office procedure is non-invasive and usually reduces most pains that travel in nerves near the skin surface in one or two treatments. In time the nerves recover completely but are less sensitive to pain than before.
American Self’s Dr. Whipple helped pioneer the development of this pain management technique that is now approved by the FDA.
Contact us to make an appointment to discuss your chronic pain.