A Straits Times contribution I made this year when I was the Director of Acute Pain at Singapore General Hospital. This was featured in the Mind & Body section on 20 May 2019.
In the article, I spoke about the management of chronic pain in the elderly. That case highlighted the minimally invasive pain management options available that allow for quick pain relief while avoiding the risks of open surgery and general anaesthesia which can be potentially dangerous in the elderly. I told the story of Mdm Tan who had chronic lower back pain, which she managed to cope with for years but was unable to go on when she developed a compression fracture. We performed a vertebroplasty procedure for her in order to give her quick pain relief with visible effects the very next day. This is a minimally invasive procedure done under sedation in under an hour with no visible wound where cement is injected into the bone that has been “flattened” to restore its height and relieve pain. This allowed her to literally get back on her feet quickly and mobilise, so that she could go back home soon after, avoiding hospital infections and the emotional distress that may be associated with a prolonged stay in hospital.
Although we cannot stop pain from happening by reversing the ravages of time and ageing, we can manage it better. Technology and advances in pain medicine have led to new and better pain treatments that are administered through minimally-invasive techniques.Dr Thor Timothy, Anuntapon Chutatape in “Managing Chronic Pain” in Straits Times: Mind & Body 20 May 2019