Pain management traditionally deals with methods for evaluating, diagnosing, and treating a myriad of acute and chronic pain. As more research develops and the field of medicine progresses, physicians learn about the complex intricacies of pain. The accessibility to research and technologies has led to a sub-specialty called interventional pain management.
What is Interventional Pain Management?
Conventional pain management treatment options like prescription medications, physical therapy, and other non-invasive techniques help reduce pain. Interventional pain management uses injections and radiofrequency ablation to treat the underlying cause of pain.
Understanding pain, the physiology of pain, and treatment options allow pain management specialists to create a multidisciplinary approach that utilizes various techniques best suited for your pain and lifestyle. Interventional pain management has increased the amount of technology and treatments available.
Interventional Pain Management Types
Injections like nerve blocks, epidural steroid injections, facet joint injections, neuromodulation, and other interventional techniques treat chronic pain disorders with incredible efficiency and precision.
Physicians often will use fluoroscopy to perform the injection. Fluoroscopy is a type of X-Ray guidance that allows a physician to see where the injection is being placed in the joint to address the root cause of pain.
A nerve block is an injection directed towards a specific nerve or group of nerves to treat pain. The injection, consisting of an anesthetic or anti-inflammatory medication, blocks the pain signal traveling from that location to your brain. It quite literally “turns off” the pain you feel. This block minimizes inflammation in the affected area.
Epidural Steroid Injection
Epidural steroid injections are a type of nerve block. It is injected into the epidural space of the spine. The medication calms the nerve, reducing the painful sensations. This injection type treats pain caused by a compressed spinal nerve root, sciatica, and even osteoarthritis.
Facet Joint Injections
Facet joints connect the bones of the spine, allowing for motion and movement. Inflammation causes pain, and facet joint injections can reduce that pain. These injections are placed alongside the joint and usually involve a steroid and numbing agent concoction. Patients who have not had success with conventional treatments and suffer from neck, arm, low back, or leg pain caused by inflammation of the facet joints are candidates for this procedure.
Radiofrequency lesioning reduces pain by preventing the transmission of pain signals. Radiofrequency utilizes electrical currents to essentially burn a small piece of nerve tissue, creating a long-lasting interruption of pain signals to the brain. Radiofrequency lesioning is a non-surgical option to reduce chronic pain.
Spinal Cord Stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is a type of neuromodulation that helps treat pain that affects the central, peripheral, or autonomic nervous systems by providing electrical stimulation via implanted devices. Like a pacemaker, a small device is implanted in the back along the spine. The generator transmits low-voltage electrical currents to the spinal cord instead of pain signals. Patients may feel a slight tingling sensation instead of their pain.
Living with chronic pain is not normal, and patients should know that technology is quickly evolving to provide physicians with the most effective and state-of-the-art treatment options for battling chronic pain.