What Is Interventional Pain Management?

For those suffering from chronic pain, the search for relief can seem endless. You may visit a multitude of doctors and try every treatment there is without finding something that works for you. You may shuffle between specialists who each recommend a different form of back pain treatment and contradict each other. Many people in this scenario have found Interventional Pain Management to be an alternative when other options have been exhausted. As an emerging area of medicine, Interventional Pain Treatment has been the solution to chronic pain for many people and is becoming better understood.

Interventional Pain Management

According to the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP), the treatment is defined as a “discipline of medicine devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of pain-related disorders.” Interventional pain medicine uses a multidisciplinary method with a team of health care professionals working in tandem to provide a holistic set of treatments in order to address chronic pain. The stated goals of Interventional Pain Management are to relieve, reduce, or manage pain, improve overall quality of life, and diagnose and treat painful conditions using minimally invasive techniques. The outcomes are often measured by a patient’s ability to return to everyday activities quickly and without relying on medication.

In addition to a primary care physician, an Interventional Pain Management team can be made up of a range of health care professionals, including physiatrists, anesthesiologists, internists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurses, psychologists, and psychiatrists. These efforts are coordinated and implemented through the patient, whose cooperation is essential.

Interventional Pain Management for Back Pain

Many people who visit an interventional pain doctor are there to deal with chronic pain related to the back. Interventional Pain Management techniques are often well suited to these types of injuries and conditions. Based on your evaluation at an interventional pain clinic, some treatments may include:

  1. Epidural injections in the spine, which contain anesthetic and steroid medications to relieve pain or diagnose specific conditions.
  2. Nerve, root, and medial branch blocks, which are injections done with the intention of determining which specific spinal nerve root is the source of pain or to reduce pain.
  3. Facet joint injections to determine whether the facet joints may be the source of pain or to reduce this pain.
  4. Discography, which looks inside the discs to determine if they are the source of pain via a dye that can be displayed on an x-ray or CT scan.
  5. Rhizotomy, in which heated electrodes are applied to specific nerves to “turn off” the pain signals they send to the brain.
  6. Intrathecal pumps surgically implanted to deliver pain medications to a precise location in the spine.
  7. PRFN, or Pulsed Radiofrequency Neurotomy, is a minimally invasive procedure that disables spinal nerves to prevent them from transmitting pain signals to the brain.
  8. Spinal cord stimulation via electrical impulses meant to block pain from being perceived by the brain.

What to Expect at the Interventional Pain Center

At your first visit with a specialist, you will undergo an extensive physical exam along with a discussion of your medical history and current symptoms. This will be similar to other doctor visits you’ve had in order for the provider to understand your goals and concerns. One thing that will be crucial during this visit is to discuss and disclose all treatments you have tried in the past, including any medications you have taken recently or currently take. This includes alternative therapies like acupuncture, herbal remedies, or massage.

Before beginning any treatment, an interventional pain doctor will want to rule out conditions that may cause similar symptoms. This can be done with diagnostic scans such as an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI, along with blood tests and potentially psychological evaluations. This thorough evaluation will allow your medical information to be analyzed in full and for a comprehensive plan to be designed just for you.

Once this treatment plan is created, you will be able to coordinate the various treatment options with your provider. Many facilities offer all therapies in one place, or you may need to coordinate with multiple facilities. It is important to carefully follow any instructions and coordinate care so that these providers can work together to bring you relief. Your full cooperation and investment will lead you to reap the benefits of Interventional Pain Management.