Pain is a part of life – from our interactions with friends and family to our jobs and even our hobbies. Most often, pain is temporary, but for millions of Americans it is a daily struggle. Those who suffer from chronic pain can feel hopeless. Options may seem limited and less than ideal – “do I want to take this medicine / do this therapy, or just live with it?”
At Ascendant, we take pain seriously. Our comprehensive approach includes not only best-in-class physical therapy, but also individualized evaluations for appropriate medications, and targeted interventional therapies. This last option is one many who live with chronic pain have never heard of or had offered. For many of these patients, this approach – interventional pain management –provides the most effective treatment. As with other pain management approaches, taking a prescription medication for example, the goal of an interventional pain management is to help chronic pain patients cope with their condition. What makes this approach different is that interventional procedures directly address the source of pain with techniques that interfere with the transmission of pain signals to the brain.
Some examples of interventional treatments include:
From epidural steroid injections, to myofascial trigger point injections, to diagnostic nerve blocks, minimally traumatic injections help to disrupt the inflammatory processes that are at the root of many individuals’ chronic pain. While some patients require more than one, the need for these injections is always determined on a case-by-case basis.
Intrathecal Drug Delivery Devices (also known as “Pain pumps”)
Reserved for very select patients, these devices deliver minute amounts of medication directly to the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. The medication is contained in a pump that is implanted under the skin and can be refilled on a periodic basis.
For those who suffer from predominantly arthritis-related pain, this procedure can provide prolonged relief. A diagnostic injection is performed first, determining if one’s pain is indeed coming from arthritis. If successful, this block (which is not designed to provide long-term benefit) will allow the patient to perform activities they typically would not otherwise be able to do. With that information in hand, the physician can then proceed with using a small needle and a radiofrequency probe to heat up and “stun” the offending nerves.
Again, reserved for select patients, this intervention places a small, often rechargeable, battery under the skin while connecting it to small wires that are placed and secured in the epidural space, similar to a pacemaker. However, before this is done, a trial is performed, allowing the patient to experience the treatment without committing to an implant. In neuromodulation, a small electrical field is created near the spinal cord, interrupting the transmission and perception of pain. The procedure (both trial and implant) is individualized, minimally invasive, and performed on an outpatient basis.