What is interventional pain management?
There is little in life that is more distressing than chronic pain. Untreated pain in the back, neck, and spine can significantly interfere with your quality of life, decreasing your range of motion and making it impossible to derive the benefits of exercise.
Pain management techniques have evolved over the years, and today there are more options than ever before for easing your discomfort and restoring your peace of mind. Interventional pain management is a conservative, minimally invasive discipline, employing various innovative modalities to diagnose and treat chronic conditions.
What are the different modalities utilized during interventional pain management?
- Interlaminar epidural steroid injections
This approach is useful in treating spinal stenosis, herniated discs, and inflamed nerves. It can help minimize irritation, reduce pain and offer you much-needed relief for several weeks or months. Steroids are potent; anti-inflammatory medications directly injected near the spinal canal with the help of fluoroscopic guidance.
- Transforaminal epidural steroid injections
These injections can act therapeutically to reduce discomfort, numbness, inflammation, and pain. Irritating, spinal nerves are calmed, and swelling is minimized. Injections are applied near the opening of the spine, where the nerve roots are located. Fluoroscopic guidance is utilized, which allows for precise and meticulously detailed results.
- Sacroiliac joint injections
Located in the lower back where the pelvis meets the sacrum, the sacroiliac joints often flare up with inflammation, causing immense pain. During this procedure, a local anesthetic is injected using fluoroscopic guidance as a diagnostic test. If relief ensues, then it can be determined that the sacroiliac joints are the cause of your discomfort.
When the facet joints become irritated or inflamed, pain is the result. Facet joint injections serve to block the nerves responsible for the discomfort chemically. The injections act as a diagnostic to determine the source and cause of your pain.
The sensation experienced in the facet joints is made possible by the medial branch nerves. A medial branch block can be employed to help provide temporary relief from facet joint pain. It is an effective solution in those for whom facet joint injections have provided only temporary and limited relief.
If it is determined that a medial branch block effectively reduces your pain, you will automatically become a candidate for radiofrequency neurotomy. During this treatment, your pain management specialist will gently ablate the medial branch nerve, easing discomfort within the facet joints.
This diagnostic test, also called a discogram, can help your pain management team assess which disc is responsible for your discomfort. If you have consistent pain in your lower back, hip, groin, or legs, it can be highly enlightening to discover where the pain originates. A contrast dye will be injected into individual discs selected after an x-ray is performed.
Used when diagnosing motor neuron disorders, disc herniation, or nerve conditions, an EMG is a safe tool that allows your pain management professionals to assess the root of your pain. Often symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness are signs of nerve damage or a muscle disorder.
- PRP (platelet-rich plasma) treatment
Platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, makes use of platelets derived from the patient’s blood supply. PRP is rich in growth factors and other healing compounds that can help to reverse damage in the cartilage or tendons. PRP can be especially useful in combating pain from injuries that have healed poorly.
What is the takeaway?
When your pain is severe enough to interfere with your daily life or limit your participation in everyday activities, it may be time to consider some new alternatives for relief. Interventional pain management can help to diagnose and pinpoint the root causes of your chronic pain so that more precise and customized treatments can be initiated down the line. It can also help to relieve irritation, inflammation, stress, and discomfort.