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What Is Interventional Pain Management?

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  • Written By: Jessica F. Black
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2014
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Interventional pain management is a process in which the physician attempts to manage a patient's pain through direct interaction with the specific areas of discomfort. There are two primary types of interventional pain management, diagnostic and therapeutic, that doctors perform in order to identify and modify a patient's physical affliction. The goal of interventional pain management is to provide the patient with comprehensive care by offering a variety of procedures that suit his or her individual needs.

Using diagnostics to determine the location of pain is one aspect of interventional pain management. A doctor usually consults previous imaging of the specific area before performing diagnostic testing, which often involves administering local anesthetic to various nerves. The purpose of singling out individual nerves with a numbing agent is to conclude which nerve is the original outlet for pain. Through the process of elimination, the nerve that ultimately relieves the pain when it is numb identifies the specific problem area. There are other methods used to diagnosis the original source of pain including discography, which injects a liquid into different discs in the back to determine which one causes extreme discomfort.

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The doctor uses the diagnostic intervention to guide the decision which therapeutic technique will best be used for long time pain relief. Interventional pain management uses diverse therapeutic procedures to individualize the patient's treatment. Epidural Steroid Injection (ESI), an injection of steroids that reduces inflammation and decreases pain, is one of the most common forms of interventional pain management. The most powerful and frequently used steroid for injections is cortisone. Aside from ESI, there are other types of injections such as peripheral nerve, sacroilic joint, and facet joint injections.

Interventional pain management often incorporates hot and cold therapeutic treatments as one source of relief. Physicians frequently use neuromodulation for patients experiencing dramatic pain. One form of neuromodulation is the delivery of medicine directly to the spinal fluid, which allows the body to constantly administer medicine. The second form is electrical stimulation therapy performed on the nervous system, which also relieves pain.

In order to receive the full benefits of interventional pain management, a patient should disclose all previous and current treatments, as well as medications taken for pain. The doctor may administer a full physical examination before proceeding to diagnostic intervention. All procedures performed are to assist in the assessment of the individual's medical case and determine the best form of personalized treatment.

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