Treating chronic pain, a growing field in mid-Missouri
Chronic pain can ruin a person's life, treating it is half the battle.
Pain doctors have only been practicing for a few decades but the field is growing and advancing-- especially in mid-Missouri.
"We call it chronic pain when pain persists beyond its normal role of defense mechanism," pain physician Joseph Meyer said.
"The pain itself becomes an illness. Then it's a problem that we need to now somehow modulate, reduce, stop if we can."
Chris Grateke is 24 years into suffering pain from a motorcycle accident. His injuries caused the initial pain.
"I started noticing the neurological pains that felt somewhat like an electrical shock," Grateke said. "Extremely painful, very annoying."
Grateke said that pills and medication didn't give him the relief he sought. A few weeks ago, doctors put a spinal cord stimulator alongside his spine. He asked if that would rid him of his pain.
The answer was no, but he says it's still helping.
Mid-Missouri has several pain clinics and doctors. According to online ratings, four of them have top five-star ratings.
Many pain sufferers expect total relief and doctors say that it isn't usually possible.
Meyer assures though pain treatments are steadily improving in all areas.
The Columbia Interventional Pain Center was among those pioneering work eight years ago with stem-cell injections.
"Let's try injecting some of these solutions of a patient's own stem cells into that area and we've had tremendous success," the physician said.
"Not everybody gets better, but the beaut of it is that we are seeing people saved from surgery or excessive medications and just a poor quality of life. It's still in its infancy, so stay tuned."
Meyers said he never tells a patient 'you're pain free'-- he said that attitude matters.
"Do we have patients come back and say 'I'm pain free?' Absolutely," Meyers said.
"It's the people who want to understand their condition and play a role in helping themselves to get better that are happier with the end product."