Although it is a goal to keep therapy as conservative as possible when dealing with acute or chronic conditions like joint problems and head, neck and back pain, sometimes the effectiveness of conservative treatment is not enough to provide adequate pain relief. Before a patient considers undergoing surgery or resorts to taking pain pills for the rest of his or her life, manipulation under anesthesia can be done as a viable alternative option that may eliminate the need for both extensive treatments.
Treatment procedures may not work when they fail to inhibit the pain cycles that are propagated by muscle spasm and other physiologic processes that send pain signals to the brain. This is especially problematic with nerve problems and chronic muscle guarding. Manipulation under anesthesia sedates the overactive nerves and stops the pain signals at the source of input, cutting the signal pathway of pain from the affected area to the brain. Once this is achieved, muscles can stop their reflexive guarding and relax, allowing physicians to manipulate the tissue in a way that will otherwise be too painful for the patient. Aside from movement of tissue, breaking up of adhesions and scars can also be done to lessen restriction of movement post-procedure and lessen the chronic inflammation brought about by prolonged muscle guarding.
MUA is done in a hospital or surgical clinic and is performed jointly by an anesthesiologist, a surgeon/chiropractor/physician, and an assisting chiropractor or physician. The lead practitioner will do several manipulations while the patient is anesthetized and mildly sedated, which may involve one or more of the following: stretches, manipulations of the joint, and articular cartilage maneuvers.
The relief of pain after the procedure is partially due to the manipulative breaking of scar tissue and adhesions in the affected area, usually around the spine. This allows the body to correctly realign itself without the restrictions holding it back, and gives the body relief by decreasing spasms and generally stretching muscles, ligaments, and tendons that might have been shortened due to prolonged spasm.
Manipulation under anesthesia can be done in conjunction with a rehabilitation program to ensure maximal function after the treatment. The procedure can be done in multiple consecutive days, before sending the patient to recovery rehabilitation to prevent further problems.