You’ve made the decision to see a doctor for your neck or back pain. But now you’re faced with another question: Who should you see? Because many types of healthcare providers treat spine conditions, you may be unsure which route to take.
A growing number of patients are benefiting from a specialty called interventional pain management. To help you understand more about what an interventional pain management specialist does, we’ve created a list of reasons to schedule an appointment with one. Does anything on our list apply to you?
1. Your pain continues even after attempting conservative treatment.
Despite its prevalence, most neck and back pain will resolve over time. In the interim, many people find adequate pain relief using at-home treatments. This includes rest, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, and heat or cold therapy. A primary care physician or spine specialist can also suggest other conservative treatments, such as prescription medications or physical therapy, to improve your comfort.
But if your pain doesn’t improve after several weeks, or if it’s significantly impacting your ability to function normally, interventional pain medicine may be an option to explore. A pain management specialist has a high level of training in treating acute and chronic pain. With this expertise, a pain management specialist uses advanced imaging systems to deliver pain-reducing treatments, such as epidural steroid injections and nerve blocks, to precise areas of your spine. These innovative and minimally invasive treatments often provide better and longer-lasting relief.
2. You’re still trying to find a diagnosis for your pain.
When you think about all of the joints, nerves, muscles, and ligaments in your neck and back, it becomes more understandable why pain in these areas can be so tricky to diagnose.
Because it’s hard to properly treat your pain if you don’t know exactly where it’s coming from, interventional pain management can be helpful. Though the techniques involved are most often used to treat pain, interventional pain management can also be used to diagnose the source of your pain.
For example, let’s say you are experiencing neck pain that’s radiating down your arm, and your doctor suspects that a spinal nerve is irritated and inflamed. A pain management doctor can inject a specific nerve root in your spine with a numbing medication and steroid. If your pain is reduced or goes away, the source of your pain has been located. A proper diagnosis is the first step to successful treatment.
3. You want to avoid surgery if possible.
Most people don’t want to have surgery unless it’s necessary. The expense, the recovery, the risks—these are common worries. Though these concerns can be minimized in the hands of an expert surgeon, you may wonder if there are non-operative treatments you can try first.
In addition to injections, interventional pain medicine encompasses other pain-blocking procedures. A consultation with a pain management specialist may provide you with additional alternatives for treating your pain without the need for surgery.
4. You’ve had surgery but are still experiencing pain.
In some cases, surgery is truly the best choice to repair a mechanical issue in your spine. After surgery, you’ll be provided with instructions on how to manage your pain and how to gradually progress your activity level.
But what if, in the weeks and months after surgery, your pain is hindering your recovery process? A referral to a pain management specialist can be useful. As your body continues to heal, interventional pain medicine may be used to help you function better, start at-home exercises, or participate in physical therapy.
At DISC Sports and Spine Center, pain management is part of our practice. Our pain management specialists work in collaboration with all members of our medical team to provide continuity of care and ensure the best results for our patients. Because of our commitment to patient safety, all of our interventional pain management procedures are performed in our state-of-the-art surgical center. We see the positive impact of pain management on our patients every day. Contact us so we can show you how.
ARTICLE CATEGORIES: Patient Education
About the author
discmdgroup DISC Sports and Spine Center (DISC) is one of America’s foremost providers of minimally invasive spine procedures and advanced arthroscopic techniques. Our individually picked, highly specialized physicians apply both established and innovative solutions to diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate their patients in a one-stop, multi-disciplinary setting. With a wide range of specialists under one roof, the result is an unmatched continuity of care with more efficiency, less stress for the patient, and a zero MRSA infection rate. Read more articles by discmdgroup.