Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Pain Management Treatment and Procedures
Am I a candidate for Interventional Pain Management?
Any person who is looking for an alternative to medication based Pain Management is a candidate for Interventional Pain Management. Our Physicians are extremely gentle and are able to perform procedures in the office setting without intravenous sedation. This even includes procedures such as Kyphoplasty and Spinal Cord Stimulation which traditionally were performed in hospitals under anesthesia and required much time. At American Pain Institute, you will be able to get off the procedure table and walk out the door at the conclusion of your procedure. From a cost perspective, it is much less expensive to have a procedure performed in the office setting compared with a hospital or ambulatory surgery center since they charge expensive facility fees which are usually greater than the Physician’s fee. In the office setting, there are no facility fees whatsoever. Another advantage your Physician at American Pain Institute has is that your Physician can choose the best technology for your individual case, rather than using what is available in the Hospital or Ambulatory Surgery Center. Our Physicians have more freedom to treat your pain.
What is Radiofrequency Neurolysis?
Radiofrequency Neurolysis has been around for 50 years and is tried and true technology for pain relief. The Radiofrequency Needle emits energy to increase the temperature of the surrounding tissue to destroy or cripple nerves. If the nerves are transmitting pain, Radiofrequency Neurolysis can reduce the transmission of pain from these nerves. The nerves will regenerate over time. The longer it takes them to regenerate the longer the duration of pain relief. The duration is usually from 6-12 months. The idea of using electricity to destroy or cripple nerves sounds painful, but it isn’t. The reason for this is that your Physician can inject a local anesthetic through the Radiofrequency needle before destroying the nerves. The procedure can be repeated to keep your pain at bay for as long as you desire.
What is Kyphoplasty?
Kyphoplasty is used to treat spinal vertebral fractures. Unlike arms or legs which can be casted, there is no way to cast a vertebral fracture. Kyphoplasty involves the safe injection of a resin or cement inside the fractured vertebral body. The goal is to stabilize the fracture so it does not progress. Fractured vertebrae can be very painful since the fracture zone can behave like a geological fault line. Think about the San Andreas Fault. Whenever there is movement between the two plates of the fault, it creates earthquakes. When this happens in the fracture zone of a vertebrae, it creates pain. By stabilizing the fracture zone of a vertebrae, there is no longer any movement in the zone and pain is relieved. This is a cure for the pain from a fracture.
What is Spinal Cord Stimulation?
Spinal Cord Stimulation has been around for 50 years. It is a procedure involving the placement of small electrodes under the skin, near the spine to help for pain coming from the spine. It is no more invasive than an Epidural used in childbirth and is performed under local anesthesia. The electrodes are placed temporarily and are removed after 5-7 days. No incision is required as the needles used to place the electrodes are small. The electrodes emit waves of energy that reduce the pain signals traveling up the spine to reduce your perception of pain. There are 2 different modes of stimulation. The traditional mode is one where you feel a pleasant massage tingling in the area of your pain. The newer mode involves a “silent” mode in which you feel no sensation from the device, only pain relief. Some patients say the device is like a radar jammer that blocks the pain signals traveling up their spine. An attractive feature of Spinal Cord Stimulation is that before committing to any surgery, you can undergo a minimally invasive procedure in the office to test whether this technology is effective for your pain. As the test period is 5-7 days long, you have ample time to determine for yourself if this technology is effective for your pain. It is like test driving a car for 5-7 days. By the end of that time, you will know with confidence if you want the car. Similarly with Spinal Cord Stimulation, if the testing period is effective, you know it is worthwhile to undergo the surgical implantation which includes both electrodes and a battery to control your pain. It is similar to a pacemaker and is reversible. You do not have to keep the device for the rest of your life. If in the future, a better technology comes along which is more effective for your pain, you can remove the device and “trade up” to something more effective for your pain.
What is Hydrodiscectomy?
Hydrodiscectomy is a procedure that involves placing a special probe the size of a cocktail straw within a herniated or bulging disc. It is minimally invasive and is performed through a needle, rather than making an open incision. It is performed under local anesthesia and once the probe is in the disc, it takes 3 minutes to shrink the disc down in size and relieve the pain from it. When the procedure is over, the procedure site is so small that not even a band aid is required. Patients walk off the table and can return to work the next day. Compared to Microdiscectomy, it is less invasive, less painful, has a remarkably shorter recovery time, and there is a reduced chance for the disc to reherniate in the future. Hydrodiscectomy is not appropriate for certain spinal conditions. Ask your Physician at American Pain Institute if you are a candidate for this remarkable procedure.
What is Regenerative Medicine?
Regenerative Medicine involves the injection of stem cells or growth factors into various regions to heal or regenerate tissue. These stem cells or growth factors occur naturally in every person and are responsible for healing. They can be taken from your blood or purchased in a frozen form for the procedure. If injected into a joint, the stem cells and growth factors can regenerate the cushioning fluid, regenerate cartilage, and essentially turn back the clock to relieve pain from degeneration or trauma. The stem cells and growth factors used are twenty times more concentrated than what is found in your body. Therefore, the benefit of them is remarkable. Regenerative Medicine has largely replaced steroid injections for athletes. The advantage of Regenerative Medicine over steroids is that Regenerative Medicine heals and regenerates tissue whereas steroids reduce inflammation temporarily. Ask your Physician at American Pain Institute if you are a candidate for this cutting edge procedure.