Interventional Pain Management for Chronic Pain

Interventional Pain Management for Chronic Pain 7/18/16

Injections, Stimulation, Pain Pumps, and Other Treatments

For many people living with chronic pain, finding pain relief can be tough. A lot of trial and error is involved to find a pain treatment that works. Interventional pain management may help chronic pain patients cope with their pain.

what makes interventional pain management different is that it uses techniques, such as injections and radiofrequency rhizotomy, to directly [and invasively] address the source of your pain.

Some conditions interventional pain management techniques commonly treat include:  

Sometimes interventional pain management techniques play a part in a multi-disciplinary approach to relieve your pain and other symptoms.

Below are some of the most commonly used interventional pain management techniques.


Injections—also called nerve blocks—work to provide temporary pain relief. They send powerful medications, such as steroids and opioids, onto or near your nerves to relieve pain.

One of the most common injections is an epidural steroid injection in your lumbar spine (low back). This injection sends steroids directly to the nerve root that’s inflamed.

Other common injections are facet joint injections, single nerve root blocks, and sacroiliac joint injections.

You’ll most likely need 2 or 3 injections for maximum benefits, but you shouldn’t have more than that due to the potential side effects of steroids and other medications.

Radiofrequency Rhizotomy

Using x-ray guidance and a needle with an electrode at the tip that gets heated, radiofrequency rhizotomy temporarily turns off a nerve’s ability to send pain messages to your brain.

Other names for radiofrequency rhizotomy are radiofrequency ablation and neuroablation.

For many patients, this procedure can provide pain relief for 6 to 12 months.

Intrathecal Pump Implants

Intrathecal pump implants, also known as pain pumps, provide potent medications straight to the source of your pain. They’re a type of neuromodulation—a treatment that interrupts pain signals to your brain.

Pain pumps are commonly used for cancer pain and failed back or neck surgery.

With this procedure, a small device—called a pump—gets implanted under your skin. Your doctor programs the pump to deliver a specific amount of medication, and he or she will need to refill the pump every few months.

Because this is a more invasive procedure than an injection, a pain pump is typically used only if other treatments have been unsuccessful.

Electrical Stimulation

Electrical stimulation is another type of neuromodulation. Similar to a pain pump, something gets implanted in your body with electrical stimulation. But with this procedure, a stimulator is implanted along with an electrical lead to send electrical pulses directly to the area that’s causing pain—the spinal cord, nerves, or brain, for instance.

You can have spinal cord stimulation or deep brain stimulation

some people feel a tingling sensation with this treatment.

However, as with a pain pump, electrical stimulation is usually one of the last interventional pain management treatments tried.

Other Interventional Pain Management Techniques

Intradiscal electrothermic therapy, for example, uses heat to destroy nerve fibers to reduce your pain.

Another example is cryogenic cooling, which is similar to radiofrequency rhizotomy, but instead temporarily shuts nerves down by freezing them.

Is Interventional Pain Management an Option for You?

You may need to try several interventional pain management techniques or perhaps a combination of these techniques as part of a comprehensive pain management plan. These techniques can provide pain relief to improve your quality of life.

It’s one thing to try out different non-invasive techniques, but this seems to advocate for trying multiple injections or implants to find one that will work.

It seems risky to practice invasive (puncturing, cutting) procedures multiple times around the same place. Not only does it heighten the statistical odds for an accident but it also leads to increasing scar tissue after each intervention and developing more chronic pain.

As with any procedure, interventional pain management procedures have certain risks.


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