Modern science has significantly affected how pain is managed today as opposed to a few years ago. “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning,” is an old joke that wasn’t too far removed from the truth back in the day. Health professionals at one time had a limited arsenal to combat their patient’s chronic pain. Effective over-the-counter medications were limited and health professionals were uncomfortable prescribing heavy prescription drugs, over a long period of time, for patients suffering from chronic pain. However, physicians and patients now have more pain management options through interventional pain management.
Interventional pain management can be traced back to the 1800’s but has since evolved into a specialty that has gained significant momentum within the health community. Its validity was solidified when it was recognized by the United States Billing Committee, allowing the specialty to bill under programs like Medicare and Medicaid.
What is Interventional Pain Management?
Interventional Pain Management is a comprehensive approach to managing chronic pain. It looks at the whole person and considers the physical, emotional and even spiritual attributes that either contribute to the patient’s pain or may provide answers in terms of how to best approach and eliminate chronic pain. Interventional pain management is also a multi-disciplinary approach that involves multiple physicians and health professionals assessing your condition, in order to make an accurate diagnosis, to find the origin of your pain and treat it effectively. Diagnosis is the first focus. For instance, there are many reasons why a person might experience back pain. Determining the source of the back pain is an integral step in securing the correct treatment. There are specific treatments for specific causes.
A multidisciplinary team of interventional pain management experts will include your primary physician, who will refer you for interventional pain management. One or more of the following will also be a part of the team: anesthesiologist, nurses, psychiatrists and psychologists, internists, physical therapists, occupational therapist and perhaps an acupuncturist.
Interventional Treatment Techniques
Once the IPM team has provided a diagnosis, they will follow through with the appropriate treatment to combat the pain. Here are a few common treatment options.
- Electrical stimulation is used to address the spine, brain and nerve issues. An electrical lead and stimulator are implanted in the body. Electrical pulses are directed to specific areas/the root of the pain.
- Nerve block injections provide temporary pain relief. There are several nerve block options available to patients. The most common is an epidural steroid, which is administered to the lower back area to relieve pain created by an inflamed nerve root.
- Radiofrequency Rhizotomy is the process by which nerve sending pain signals are literally turned off. The patient’s pain is relieved up to six months. The procedure involves a needle with an electrode at the tip, in the hands of an interventional doctor that is guided by an X-Ray.
- Pain pump implants interrupt pain signals to the brain, by pumping medications into the source of the pain. The device is implanted under the skin and it is programmed to provide specific doses of medication at specific intervals.
The final and successful result of interventional pain management is the subsiding of chronic pain. There’s no reason to suffer needlessly, considering all the options available today. If you suffer from chronic pain, speak with a health professional about implementing interventional pain management.