Interventional Pain Management
Interventional Pain Management is the practice of treating patients with acute and chronic pain. It is important for primary care physicians to partner with pain management specialists to develop the best treatment plan for patients suffering with pain. Anesthesiology is the leading specialty representing interventional pain management as they are experts in precision. While epidurals and steroid injections are some of the more well known forms of treatment, there are many additional types of injections and minimally invasive procedures available to patients.
Pain Management Treatments
Back pain is the most common type of pain patients are seeking treatment for. Although it is not the only type of pain, many of the treatments used for back pain can also be used to treat pain that occurs in other joints as well as various neurological pain conditions. Nerve blocks are often used to treat back and joint pain with a high success rate. There are a wide variety of blocks available to patients that are used to diagnose pain, treat pain, and determine the prognosis of more invasive treatments such as surgery. More information on nerve blocks can be found here.
Epidural steroid injections are the most well-known form of pain management to primary care physicians and serve as a precursor to many additional forms of treatment. This therapeutic procedure utilizes a fluoroscopically guided approach to promote placement accuracy. Corticosteroids such as methylprednisolone or betamethasone are highly effective anti-inflammatories that are injected into the epidural space via the epidural injection. This type of injection allows these anti-inflammatory drugs to be administered extremely close, if not exactly to, the site of the pathologic pain process which alleviates pain for many patients.
Massage therapy, acupuncture, and physical therapy can also help as forms of treatment in pain management cases. The stimulation, manipulation, stretching, and strengthening techniques that these therapies provide can be extremely healing and helpful for patients, despite the fact that many people assume rest is best. This non-pharmacological approach to treating pain can be very useful for those looking to avoid any drugs or injections.
Spinal cord stimulators are a more advanced form of therapy but have also proven to be highly effective in the field of pain management. Also known as neuromodulation, this treatment yields great results for patients suffering from chronic pain. This form of treatment has been used for hundreds of years, however it wasn’t until the 1960’s that neuromodulation was re-introduced to medical publications. Spinal cord stimulators are first introduced to patients via an outpatient trial procedure. This trial places electrode lead implants in the epidural space, and a small generator, similar to a pacemaker battery pack, underneath the skin. These leads send electrical impulses to the surrounding nerves and muscle groups by way of a remote control that the patient can use when they are experiencing pain. If patients see a 50% improvement with the trial, a permanent stimulator will be implanted.
Advantages of Interventional Pain Treatments
The wide variety of therapies available in the pain management field serve as effective treatment options for patients who find themselves suffering from chronic, acute, and subacute pain. While there are many surgical options to treat pain, medical advances have allowed for nerve blocks, epidurals, injections, and stimulators to provide relief to patients with minimal risks and down time. Many of the common interventional pain treatments provide functional improvements, low risks, and cost efficiency for patients. An accurate diagnosis is critical in finding the best form of treatment, however, with supportive physicians, healing can be right around the corner.