Spinal Cord Stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation, also referred to as neurostimulation therapy, is a pain treatment that works by blocking signals from reaching the brain. This procedure pulses electrical signals to the area surrounding the spinal cord. It is often used to relieve lower back pain and leg pain.
The neurostimulator is a small, pulse generator which is implanted just beneath the patient’s skin near the spinal cord. The patient is provided with a control to turn the neurostimulator on and off as needed. This control can also be used to adjust the levels of stimulation the patient experiences. The electric pulses produce a mild, tingling sensation in the place of pain.
Unlike many other surgeries, spinal cord stimulation is completely reversible. At any point in time, the patient is able to turn off or even completely remove the neurostimulator.
The entire arrangement consists only of a pump and a catheter. The pump is the small, battery-powered device. The catheter is a thin tube which is connected to the pump and inserted into the patient’s spine. Both devices are implanted just beneath the skin.
Using a small needle, the doctor will fill the pump with medication. The pump will send the medication through the catheter and into the spinal fluid.
Pharmacologic treatment is the foundation of pain therapy. Nearly half of individuals who suffer from pain choose a non-prescription analgesic (e.g., Advil, Excedrin, Tylenol ) as their initial choice for pain relief. When necessary, physicians will prescribe their patients prescription-strength pain medication.
Although invasive methods are sometimes required, most pain can be relieved through prescription and non-prescription analgesics. There are three basic categories of pain medications: non-opioids, opioids and co-analgesics. A doctor will individualize the pain management regimen by prescribing the appropriate medication. Before prescribing pain medication, a physician should gather important history of the patient including age, coexisting diseases, other medications currently being taken, preferences, responses to previous treatments, allergies, an accumulation of toxic metabolites and for addiction potential. Once all factors have been examined, the pain care team can establish a management plan.
Precision Nerve Injections
A precision nerve injection is a minimally invasive procedure used to relieve pain caused by inflamed facet joints or pinched nerves. It is often used to relieve neck pain or back pain. This treatment effectively relieves pain and results can last up to several months or even several years.
The injection numbs the medial branch nerves (the nerves that supply the facet joints with sensation). This allows a doctor to determine if the pain is actually coming from the facet joint. If the joints are determined to be the source of pain, the doctor will inject the joints with a combination of local anesthetic and steroid. If the pain is determined to be a result of a pinched or damaged nerve, doctors will inject in and around that particular nerve with the same combination of local anesthetic and steroid. All injections are done with the help of x-ray guidance to ensure the injection is as precise as possible.
The Advanced Pain Care Behavioral Health Program includes a brief clinical interview with the patient to determine, specifically, whether or not the patient is experiencing depression, anxiety, fear and avoidance behaviors that may impact the patient’s pain and the potential for prescription abuse. This will also assist in determining whether or not the patient understands the purpose of and the appropriate use of medications, and compliance with physician recommendations.
Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive medical procedure used to reduce pain by destroying nerve tissue. Radiofrequency ablation uses heat generated from a radio wave to remove nerve tissue, thus decreasing pain signals from that area.
Because radiofrequency ablation does not directly stimulate the nerves, it can be used without the need for general anaesthetic. Radiofrequency ablation has become increasingly accepted in the last fifteen years with promising results.