Frequently Asked Questions:
- When should I seek help for pain management?
If you are experiencing pain, you should seek help from a medical professional before the pain becomes severe. Describe your pain in as much detail as possible to assist your provider in determining the best treatment options. Addressing chronic pain sooner rather than later can place you on the road to recovery faster.
- What is the benefit of steroid injections for pain treatment?
Steroid injections are a common treatment in pain management and are used in many areas of the body. Steroids are injected at the site of pain which can be used to provide temporary pain relief as inflammation at the site is reduced. Most importantly, by temporarily reducing pain, injections allow patients to begin the rehabilitation process through guided stretching and exercise programs.
- What is spinal cord stimulation?
Spinal cord stimulation, also known as neurostimulation, involves the use of thin wires and a pacemaker-like device to send electrical pulses to nerves along the spinal cord. Neurostimulation systems are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and have been used for more than 40 years to manage chronic pain in the back, neck, arms or legs. These devices are typically used by patients with chronic pain who have tried other pain treatments without success.
A neurostimulator intercepts pain signals before they reach the brain which can reduce or eliminate feelings of discomfort. Since neurostimulation involves the implantation of a device and wires along the spinal cord, your physician may have you first complete an evaluation and trial period to determine if neurostimulation is right for you. If the trial period is successful, the system will be permanently implanted in an outpatient surgical procedure.
Patients with neurostimulators have reported a 50 percent or greater reduction in pain, the ability to reduce or eliminate pain medication use, and increased activity levels.
- What is radiofrequency ablation?
Radiofrequency ablation is a technique commonly used to reduce pain in the low back and neck. Heat produced by radio waves at a moderate frequency is used to create small lesions surrounding nerve structures that disrupt the flow of pain signals to the brain, thereby reducing or eliminating discomfort. This procedure is generally performed when pain is not reduced through injections at targeted sites.
During the outpatient procedure a small radiofrequency needle is inserted into the area of the body causing pain. When the physician confirms the target nerve has been located using live X-ray imaging, heat is sent into the tissue, destroying the nerves causing pain.
Patients may experience discomfort, swelling or bruising at targeted radiofrequency sites for a few days following the procedure. Depending on a patient’s pain severity, pain relief can last anywhere from months to years.
- How long will I remain pain-free after treatment?
The effectiveness of treatment depends on the severity of your pain and the procedures recommended by your physician. The ability to remain pain free for any length of time varies from patient to patient. It is recommended that you consult a physician to discuss treatment options and the frequency of appointments.
- Do the treatments and interventional pain procedures hurt?
Many of the treatment and procedures involve the injection of a local anesthetic to numb the treatment site before a procedure. Many patients say that that the burning or stinging from the anesthetic medicine is the most uncomfortable part of the procedure. As a physician nears the site of an inflamed nerve or disc, patients may experience pain or temporary shooting sensations in the body.
- Do I have to live with chronic pain for the rest of my life?
Not necessarily. Seeking the help of a medical professional for the treatment of pain is the first step in regaining functionality and living a normal life. We emphasize a multidisciplinary approach to pain management with incorporates interventional procedures, occupational and physical therapy and counseling. With proper treatment, patients can resume their normal everyday activities.
For more questions or inquiries about the treatments and procedures available at the Comprehensive Pain & Spine Center, please contact us at (530) 538-5620.