Chronic pain is one of the most common complaints of patients in the U.S., with approximately 50 million Americans (over 20% of the population) experiencing some type of pain regularly. Causes range from work-related injuries to repetitive stress, but these patients share one thing in common: they want relief, and in many cases, interventional pain management is able to provide it. Long-term pain has significant economic, social, and emotional impacts on individuals, and deserves to be treated with the utmost concern.
Not all chronic pain sufferers seek out treatment, and those that do often do not experience the results they hoped for. If traditional therapies are not working to reduce your everyday pain, you may want to talk to your doctor about interventional pain management.
What is Interventional Pain Management, and how is it different from traditional treatments?
Interventional pain management is a type of pain management plan that uses pain-blocking procedures and medicines to stop the pain patients regularly experience. These therapies “intervene” with the nerve signals, rather than trying to treat the source of the pain. These techniques are used for patients who have not responded to less invasive options such as prescriptions or physical therapy, and for conditions where a root cause cannot be found.
Interventional pain management is particularly helpful with chronic pain conditions, where the source of the pain can be unclear, or in cases where the injury has healed but the pain remains. Interventional therapies do not have to be “invasive” but are considered any type of treatment that targets the nerves causing pain.
Types of Interventional Pain Management
Interventional pain management consists of all types of therapies used to block pain sensations, ranging from nerve-blocking implants to infusions and other drug therapy. Below are some of the most common types of interventional pain procedures your doctor may use to treat you:
- Nerve blocks: As the name suggests, nerve blockers simply block the pain receptors in the nerves to inhibit the sensation of pain in a particular area of the body. Nerve-blocking treatments range from minimally invasive procedures that last for a few hours, to permanent and semi-permanent surgical implants.
- Infusions: Infusions are a type of drug therapy that infuses pain medications directly into the body. Most are delivered through catheters or an epidural and are typically used for long-term pain relief.
- Injections: Similar to infusions, injections target pain at the source by delivering steroids and numbing drugs to the area affected by pain. These can be used for short- or long-term pain relief and can target joints, muscles, or other areas of pain.
- Radiofrequency ablation: Radiofrequency ablation uses radio waves to target areas of the back and neck affected by nerve damage. The radio waves create heat which in turn reduces pain and is particularly effective to treat arthritis.
Surgeries are also sometimes used to treat or block nerve pain, but only if the damage is severe and does not respond to traditional methods. These interventions, along with other less invasive options such as physical therapy, can be used in tandem to create long-lasting relief for patients.
At PPOA, we work with patients to create long-lasting solutions to pain that help them get their lives back. We manage short- and long-term treatment plans and ensure that patients are informed of all of their options before making a decision. If you are interested in solutions for your chronic pain, talk to a PPOA specialist today.