FAQs on Interventional Pain Management in Atlanta

Interventional pain management is the practice of medicine for the care of patients with chronic pain. In order to treat patients who suffer with pain, the pain management specialist should have appropriate medical training needed to assess, diagnose, and treat patients, as well as alleviate any complications and side effects that arise.

How many people have chronic pain?

According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 100 million Americans suffer with chronic pain. According to statistics, more than half of all hospitalized patients experience pain, and research shows that 20% of the U.S. adult population report that pain disrupts their sleep.

What type of pain occurs most often?

According to a survey by the National Institute of Health Statistics, 27% of people have low back pain, 15% have headaches, 15% have neck pain, and 4% have facial pain. Back pain is the main cause of disability in people under the age of 45 years, with more than 26 million Americans experiencing frequent back pain.

What are the qualifications of interventional pain management doctors?

Physicians who specialize in the treatment of chronic pain must complete a 12-month multidisciplinary pain fellowship along with an anesthesiology residency that includes rehabilitation, neurology, or psychiatry. The physician also attends medical school and completes a residency program. Board certification in pain management is a requirement for these professionals, as well.

How are interventional procedures and pain patients selected?

Careful selection of various interventional procedures is necessary to increase the chances of a successful treatment program, as well as reduce the risk of harm. This selection process involves a comprehensive physical examination, a detailed medical history, diagnostic testing, and an appropriate diagnosis. The various testing procedures the doctor must perform include computerized tomography (CT), fluoroscopy, and digital subtraction angiography.

What conditions do interventional pain management techniques treat?

Interventional pain management procedures are used to treat many conditions that cause chronic pain, such as:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic headaches
  • Complex regional pain syndrome
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Vertebral compression fractures
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Herniated disc
  • Bulging disc
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Low back pain
  • Persistent neck pain

What are the types of treatments used for chronic pain?

The type of interventional procedure provided depends on the cause of pain, the doctor’s recommendation, and the individual patient. Treatment options include:

  • Injections – Also referred to as nerve blocks, injections are used to provide temporary pain relief. This involves the instillation of corticosteroids and/or long-acting anesthetics near the nerve to decrease inflammation or alleviate pain. Injections include epidural steroid injection (ESI), facet joint injection (FJI), selective nerve root block (SNRB), and sacroiliac joint injection.

 

  • Radiofrequency ablation – Also called radiofrequency rhizotomy or neuroablation, this procedure involves an x-ray guided wand with a needle at the tip. The device is used to destroy the nerve, so it cannot deliver pain messages to the brain.

 

  • Intrathecal pump implants – These implants provide potent medications that are delivered directly to the spinal cord. Also known as neuromodulation, a device is implanted under the skin so pain medication can be released in a steady supply.

 

  • Electrical stimulation – With spinal cord stimulation (SCS), also called neuromodulation, a device is implanted near the painful region. An electrical lead sends pulses to the spine. Electrical stimulation is used to treat Parkinson’s disease, failed back surgery syndrome, and neuropathy, but it is considered only after the patient has failed other treatment measures.