What is Interventional Pain Management?
According to the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP), interventional pain management is a “discipline of medicine devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of pain related disorders.” Interventional pain medicine utilizes a multidisciplinary approach, in which a team of health care professionals works together, to provide a full range of treatments and services for patients suffering from chronic and/or acute pain.
The goals of interventional pain management are to relieve, reduce, or manage pain and improve a patient’s overall quality of life through minimally invasive techniques specifically designed to diagnose and treat painful conditions. Interventional pain management also strives to help patients return to their everyday activities quickly and without heavy reliance on medications.
Back Pain and Interventional Pain Management Treatments
For back pain sufferers, interventional pain management techniques can be particularly useful. In addition to a thorough medical history and physical examination, interventional pain management physicians have a wide array of treatments that can be used including the following:
- Epidural injections (in all areas of the spine) – the use of anesthetic and steroid medications injected into the epidural space to relieve pain or diagnose a specific condition.
- Nerve, root, and medial branch blocks – injections done to determine if a specific spinal nerve root is the source of pain. Blocks also can be used to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Facet joint injections – an injection used to determine if the facet joints are the source of pain. These injections can also provide pain relief.
- Discography – an “inside” look into the discs to determine if they are the source of a patient’s pain. This procedure involves the use of a dye that is injected into a disc and then examined using x-ray or CT Scan.
- Pulsed Radiofrequency Neurotomy (PRFN) – a minimally invasive procedure that disables spinal nerves and prevents them from transmitting pain signals to the brain.
- Rhizotomy – a procedure in which pain signals are “turned off” through the use of heated electrodes that are applied to specific nerves that carry pain signals to the brain.
- Spinal cord stimulation – the use of electrical impulses that are used to block pain from being perceived in the brain.
- Intrathecal pumps – a surgically implanted pump that delivers pain medications to the precise location in the spine where the pain is located.
- Percutaneous Discectomy/Nucleoplasty – a procedure in which tissue is removed from the disc in order to decompress and relieve pressure.
Interventional pain management physicians often include other treatments such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and lifestyle modification (such as exercise, diet, and smoking cessation) to further enhance these procedures.