Pain is often seen as an unavoidable part of life, whether you have a physically demanding job, participate in athletic activities, or simply are getting older. While it’s true that pain is common, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should just grin and bear it. Some people can manage their pain relatively easily with rest, ice, heat, and over-the-counter pain relievers, but for others, this may not be the case. This is especially true if the pain you’re experiencing is persistent or has started to interfere with your daily activities. If you find yourself constantly struggling with pain in your back, neck, shoulders, knees, or anywhere else in your body, it might be time to consider seeing a pain management specialist.
What does a pain management specialist do?
Just as the name suggests, a pain management specialist is a type of doctor that specializes in the diagnosis, management, and treatment of pain. Whether your pain is caused by a sports injury, overuse, car accident, or chronic issues, pain management doctors get to the root of the cause and develop personalized treatment plans to help you find long-lasting pain relief. In many cases, the treatments provided by pain management specialists can help you avoid having to undergo invasive orthopedic surgery.
What types of treatments do pain management specialists provide?
Because pain comes in many forms and is caused by many factors, there is a wide variety of techniques that can be implemented when treating pain. Some of the most common pain management treatment techniques include epidural steroid injections, facet joint blocks, radiofrequency ablation, spinal cord stimulation, and nerve blocks.
Epidural Steroid Injections
Epidural steroid injections are often used to provide relief for pain located along the spine, neck, back, arms, and legs. This procedure is performed by injecting corticosteroid medications and numbing agents into the epidural space, which is an area that lies between the vertebral bones and the dural sac, a membraneous pouch that contains and protects the roots of the nerves. This helps to reduce inflammation and is often used in the treatment of conditions such as herniated disc and sciatica.
Facet Joint Blocks
Facet joint blocks are another type of injection that is delivered into the spine to provide pain relief. This is performed using fluoroscopy, which is a type of real-time imaging technique, to help guide the injection directly into the facet joints. The facet joints are the joints that connect between the vertebrae and house the nerve roots as they extend from the spinal cord to the limbs of the body. Facet joint blocks are often used to help reduce inflammation and provide long-term pain relief.
Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure in which radio waves are delivered precisely and directly to destroy painful nerve tissue using heat. This stops the nerve from sending pain signals to the brain. The procedure is performed by inserting a very thin, needle-like probe into the affected area. Radiofrequency ablation is sometimes recommended in cases of chronic back and neck pain that have been resistant to other treatment methods.
Spinal Cord Stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation involves inserting an implanted device into the epidural space to send low-level electrical signals into the spinal cord. The device is powered by a battery that is placed subdermally, often near the buttocks or abdomen. Patients are then able to control the device using a remote control whenever they feel pain. Spinal cord stimulation may be recommended in cases of severe spinal cord injuries, nerve-related pain, chronic back pain, or failed back surgery syndrome.
Nerve blocks are another type of injection in which medication is delivered to a specific area of the body. The medication used in nerve blocks helps to numb the nerves and prevent them from sending pain signals to the brain. Nerve blocks can be used therapeutically to control and prevent pain, or diagnostically to help locate the source of pain.
The Benefit of Seeing a Pain Management Specialist
The biggest benefit of seeing a pain management specialist is that they are uniquely positioned to garner a deep understanding of your pain, including what’s causing it and how to treat it. Pain management specialists also understand how deeply pain can affect your life; pain often encapsulates far more than just a physical ordeal, but also emotional frustrations. Their goal isn’t just to help relieve your pain, but to help you improve your quality of life.
See a Pain Management Specialist in Hudson County, NJ
At The Spine & Sports Health Center, we specialize in the full spectrum of interventional pain management. We also offer additional support care, such as physical therapy, sports medicine, chiropractic care, and massage therapy to augment your journey to pain relief. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our pain management specialists in Hoboken, Jersey City, or Bayonne.