How We Can Help
Chronic Pancreatitis Treatment Information
We offer advanced therapies for treating chronic pancreatitis and managing the symptoms that go along with it, including pain management.
- Pain medicines. Narcotic pain medicines can have a negative effect on your gastrointestinal system, including your pancreas. Our physicians administer non-narcotic prescription pain medicines that may alleviate or stop pain. Even these pain medicines can have side effects that affect your stomach and liver, so it is important to take them exactly as your physician instructs.
- Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy and nutrition support counseling. If your pancreas is not producing enough of the enzymes needed to absorb fat, proteins and carbohydrates, you experience pain, diarrhea, weight loss and nutritional deficiencies. Appropriately administered pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy promotes proper absorption of nutrients and relieves pain. You may also require consultation with one of our registered dieticians.
- Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) uses sound waves to generate pictures of your pancreas and surrounding internal organs. It can make a diagnosis in the early stages of pancreatitis and determine the extent of the disease. This technology can also be used to direct a thin needle to either sample a concerning abnormality in your pancreas or inject a numbing agent to help control pain related to chronic pancreatitis.
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is also an effective way to identify abnormalities inside your pancreas by combining X-rays and endoscopy. ERCP is now being utilized as an effective way to remove the stones and treat scar tissue that can block pancreatic ducts in chronic pancreatitis.
- Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) uses high frequency sound waves to break up stones that block the ducts of the pancreas. An intervention performed in conjunction with ERCP, it is now one of the most effective ways to treat pancreatic duct stones found in chronic pancreatitis.
- Intrathecal pain pumps. Pain pumps deliver pain medicines directly into your spinal fluid at scheduled times, creating seamless pain relief. Pain pumps are implanted into your torso during a short outpatient procedure. A thin tube called a catheter runs from the pump into your spine. This direct delivery allows for smaller doses, reducing your risk of side effects. Pain pumps can be removed if they are no longer needed. You will need to visit your physician every few weeks to refill the pain pump in a simple office procedure.
- Nerve blocks. Nerve blocks are injections of anesthetic and steroids directly into the nerve that is affected by pancreatitis pain. This procedure can be performed on EUS guidance as described above. The medicines diminish the pain signals sent from these nerves to the brain and reduce inflammation around the nerve. Nerve blocks may last up to several months and can be repeated to offer longer-lasting pain relief. Not all patients benefit from nerve blocks.
- Surgery. Damage to your pancreas from chronic pancreatitis may require surgery. Your may benefit from surgical drainage and bypass of blockages in the pancreas duct. Removal of part of or the entire pancreatic gland may also be necessary. We offer highly skilled, expert surgical consultation at our institution.
- Physical therapy. Physical therapy after surgery may help reduce pain. Physical therapists use many therapies like massage, stretching, exercise and hot/cold therapy to relax muscles and reduce pain. Physical therapists may also help you maintain your flexibility and muscle movements if you experience other complications of chronic pancreatitis, such as osteoporosis.
- Antidepressants. Conditions that cause chronic pain can also cause depression and anxiety. Depression keeps you from feeling the full effects of your pain treatments. Our physicians may prescribe antidepressants to improve your quality of life and increase the effectiveness of your treatments.
- Psychological counseling. Speaking to an expert psychologist or psychiatrist may also help you cope with pain and experience the full benefits of your pain treatments. Psychiatrists teach you strategies to deal with difficult days, help you understand the emotions surrounding your chronic pain and connect you to support groups for people experiencing chronic pain.
Chronic Pancreatitis Locations & Physicians
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Chronic Pancreatitis Support Services
Visit the websites below to find more information on chronic pancreatitis and its symptoms:
A Sampling of Chronic Pancreatitis Support Services
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Information from the National Institute of Health provides patients thorough explanations of pancreatitis, its symptoms, treatments and research.
This website includes information on the causes and treatment of chronic pancreatitis.
The National Pancreas Foundation
This website explores information about chronic pancreatitis and hosts information on research and support groups.