What are Hardware Blocks?
A Hardware Block is a procedure that helps with pain in the cervical, lumbar or spinal fusion. When an individual experiences chronic pain it is often caused by several factors and has endured over an extended period of time. If you have had a fusion but are continuing to experience pain, it is important to determine if the hardware is the cause or if something else is creating the chronic condition.
A study by the Global Burden of Disease in 2010 showed that back pain is the leading cause of disability for American workers. More than one half of the population will experience chronic pain in their lifetimes. Chronic pain is defined by experts as any pain that persists for longer than three months.
Proper treatment is important, but has also proven to be expensive for Americans, costing more than $50 billion annually in the United States.
Experts have seen that most back pain is not caused by cancer, bone breaks or arthritis. Most chronic pain is caused by a mechanical injury to the muscle tissue or joint. Often, individuals who suffer chronic pain will opt for surgery, which includes hardware. Occasionally this will cause additional pain, and hardware blocks can determine the right way to treat the issue.
Talk to your doctor about hardware blocks. In the procedure the patient is given a nerve block via injection of an anesthetic near the hardware in your spine. At that time the patient is asked to recreate his or her general range of motion. If the patient continues to experience pain then the doctor can determine that the hardware is not the cause of the pain, and will begin to assess treatments for the new areas of chronic pain.
If the hardware block does prove that the screws in your fusion are causing the increased pain, you can discuss possible options with your physician.
In addition to hardware blocks, it is important to make some lifestyle changes to improve your overall quality of life. Someone experiencing chronic pain should give up smoking and work on eating healthier and exercising. Good posture, good shoes and the right bed can also help improve symptoms. You may also wish to make changes to your workstation to make it more ergonomic and comfortable.
Chronic pain after a cervical, lumbar or spinal fusion is not abnormal, but it doesn’t have to limit your mobility or your quality of life. Often chronic pain can have more of an effect on your mental well-being than simply your physical health. It is extremely important to keep your physician up to date on your experiences.
While a hardware block may be able to isolate the problem, the treatment for your chronic pain may need to be a more holistic approach. Treatment for depression as well as physical therapy can help alleviate symptoms.
Chronic pain doesn’t cause only physical symptoms — it is also one of the leading causes of depression. Talk with a chronic pain specialist to understand the ways you can find pain relief, which may include hardware blocks to diagnose the specific issue. If you’ve had a fusion with hardware, consult your doctor about hardware blocks to see if you can isolate the pain.
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