Interventional Pain Solutions: Minimally Invasive Treatment Options
What is interventional pain management? This is an umbrella term covering minimally invasive procedures that can be performed to reduce, treat, or manage chronic pain. Our patients with chronic pain can spend years or decades seeking out appropriate methods for relief. Medications, surgery, and physical therapy are all options. What differentiates interventional pain solutions are how they work; by targeting the source of the pain directly. X-rays, ultrasound imaging, and selective diagnostic injections are some of the ways used to find the exact location for treatment sometimes referred to as “the pain generator”.
Below we’ve outlined the most popular interventional pain medicine options and how to learn more about them. A reminder: before embarking on a new course of treatment, always consult with your managing and treating physician(s).
Types of Interventional Pain Management
Many interventional pain techniques involve an injection of some kind. These injection therapies can give people up to a year or more of significant relief, depending on the location and type of pain. The procedures can take just 30-60 minutes more or less and usually begins with a light anesthetic. This method, and all of the procedures described in this article, are considered extremely safe and effective.
Some of the types of injections include:
- Facet joint injections (sometimes known as and used in combination with a medial branch block)
Performed under live X-ray guidance, these treat the small joints of the spine. Low doses of corticosteroids and local anesthetics can treat painful spots in the neck, back, and buttocks.
- Major joint injections
Targeting the shoulders, hips, and knees, corticosteroids, local anesthetics, or hyaluronan is injected to target pain due to painful issues such as osteoarthritis or trauma-related abnormalities.
- Epidural steroid injections
Inflammation of spinal nerve roots is treated with low doses of corticosteroids, injected directly. This treatment can be repeated at the discretion of your doctor and last up to a year.
- Sacroiliac (SI) joint block injection
Low back pain is treated with this injection, in which a numbing agent and a steroid are placed into the SI joint. This is the joint connecting the bottom of the spine with the pelvis.
- Viscosupplement injections
The fluid in your knees is supplemented to cushion and lubricate the joints, alleviating discomfort for up to several months.
Medical Branch Block
The nerve block is a pain injection specifically targeting nerves causing chronic pain. The nerve may be misfiring, is damaged, or pressure is being placed on it. This results in persistent, radiating, or centralized pain.
Diagnostic testing is sometimes done first to ensure the pain generator has been isolated. As with many of the injections described above, a medical branch block will often target the neck, mid, or lower back for a spinal condition.
Ablation has also been around for a while. It is the removal or destruction of a sensory nerve utilizing heat. RFA is a procedure done now by physicians such as surgeons and pain management doctors. It can be done in a surgery center, doctor’s office, or hospital. It is a same-day outpatient procedure.
RFA is used to burn and provide semi-permanent destruction of the pain generator, or the nerve causing the painful sensation. Heat is transmitted through a needle. The nerve is prevented from working for some time, but it can grow back.
Interventional Pain Management That Works for You
The goal of any of the options above is to give you the most pain relief possible. All are being done with more frequency these days, and insurance companies regularly accept them as approved procedures. They can also save a patient a significant time from a more invasive surgical procedure.
A pain management specialist can work with you to create a customized long-term plan. To learn more about interventional pain management solutions and how they can work for you, contact our office today.