Managing pain without pain pills

FILE - In this Friday, July 8, 2016 file photo, a prescription is filled at a pharmacy in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
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Doctors Mark Malinowski and Andrew Porter of the Adena Interventional Pain Management Department consider their practice to be a true alternative to pain medication.

“We're manipulating the spine with drugs or other types of interventions that would disrupt pain from traveling upward to the brain,” Dr. Porter said.

To be sure, both doctors realize pain is not imagined because the reality of the opioid epidemic runs rampant in the southeast Ohio region they serve.

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According to the medical experts, the patient population experiences pain because of their lifestyle requiring them to work in a job that puts a lot of stress on their body to support their family or because they've accepted the pain for so long.

It takes a couple of conversations to get them to understand and make a change.

Dr. Porter said they stress to their patients that there are better options than pain medication, “We talk a lot about healthy living, stopping smoking, good weight, good diet.”

The practice also introduces patients to cutting-edge technology including a spinal cord stimulator, which is essentially a pacemaker for the back.

In a minimally invasive procedure, surgeons place a neuromodulation lead into the spine and a very small amount of energy is delivered that changes how the nerves behave.