What is Pain Management?
Simply put, pain management is the branch of medicine solely dedicated to relieving pain and suffering in patients’ lives. Many pain management practices include physicians; physician extenders, like physician assistants and nurse practitioners; clinical psychologists; physiotherapists; occupational therapists; chiropractors; massage therapists; and acupuncturists. Chronic pain is one of the most complex and intractable medical conditions around, so professionals who are dedicated to eradicating it are in high demand. With all of these different modalities and specialties present in a typical pain management clinic, it is critically important to find a care team that aligns with your goals for pain resolution.
Comprehensive pain management is a more holistic approach to pain management, meaning these specialists utilize all available treatment modalities and procedures to create a highly-customized pain management plan for each patient. As the premier comprehensive pain management clinic on the Gulf Coast, Pain Specialists of West Florida takes a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to pain management for all of our patients.
Noninvasive Pain Management
When treating back pain, most patients opt to first try the least invasive treatment options to prevent over-treating their back pain. While it is sometimes necessary, back surgery and other invasive treatment modalities are complex, painful procedures that can have serious side effects. For that reason, most care teams will try to treat back pain as conservatively as possible before moving on to the more intense treatments. There are a number of non-invasive pain management techniques available to patients today, including:
- Physical Therapy – a combination of stretching, strengthening and cardiovascular exercises aimed at strengthening the core to stabilize the spine, which can help relieve pain and pressure on the spinal column and allow natural healing to occur.
- TENS Units – stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and uses low-dose electrical currents, delivered through pads (electrodes) placed directly on the skin above the site of injury, to stimulate nerves and eliminate the sensation of pain.
- Massage Therapy – a very popular complementary therapy that aims to use soft tissue manipulation to reduce pain and inflammation in the muscles that support the spine.
- Non-Opioid Pain Medications – there are a number of non-opioid pain medications that can be used to relieve back pain, including ibuprofen, aspirin
andnaproxen, which can be purchased OTC or at higher strengths with a prescription. There are also stronger, non-opioid medications that can be used to treat back pain, including anti-epileptic medications like gabapentin and tricyclic antidepressants.
- Opioid Pain Medication – while the pain management profession has grown less reliant on opioid pain medications in their treatment plans, there is absolutely still a place for these drugs in the treatment of certain conditions and physicians.
Pain Management Therapies
If more conservative treatment options fail to provide pain relief, there are a number of minimally-invasive procedures that a pain management team is qualified to prove. These include:
- Trigger Point Injections – an injection of anesthetic medication into the “trigger points” or knots of spinal muscles that cause pain and discomfort.
- Epidural Injections – a fluoroscopic injection of corticosteroids into the epidural space—the area between the dura, a thin membrane surrounding the nerves, and the spinal canal. Provides substantial pain relief without surgery.
- Facet Injections – an injection of local anesthetics and corticosteroids into the facet joint of the spine, which can provide immediate pain relief through the administration of anesthetic and long-term pain relief from the corticosteroids.
- Radiofrequency Ablation – a minimally-invasive procedure that aims to eradicate pain by using heat to damage the nerves that relay pain signals to the spinal cord and brain.
- Sacroiliac Injections – injections of the sacroiliac joint can provide immediate pain relief through the administration of anesthetic and long-term pain relief from the corticosteroids.
- Spinal Cord Stimulation – a treatment modality that uses low-level electrical impulses to block pain signals from being sent up the spinal cord to the brain, where they are registered as pain or discomfort.
No matter what type of treatment your back pain ultimately requires, Pain Consultants of West Florida is uniquely positioned to offer access to the entire continuum of spine care, from non-invasive treatments to complex procedures like epidural injections.