As compared to other medical specialties, interventional pain management is an extremely young field. It used to be that a patient with pain would be evaluated by a surgeon. If they weren’t an appropriate surgical candidate then that patient would be managed by medications and/or physical therapy. Over the years, we’ve developed interventional procedures to fill in the gap between medications and surgeries.
Steroid injections in the joints and spine are now commonplace conservative treatment options. We’ve added radiofrequency ablation procedures to burn nerves that are responsible for the sensation of pain. For patients with more complex pain, we are implanting electrical stimulator devices near the spinal cord to actually change the way pain signals are perceived. There are companies developing synthetic disc material that can be injected into damaged discs. Regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy has made tremendous progress. And as technology further advances, so does the development of more and more treatment options.
For example, patients with sacroiliac (SI) joint pain have historically been treated with steroid injections and oral anti-inflammatory medications. More recently, SI joint fusion devices have been developed where a patient can have an outpatient SI joint fusion in less than 30 minutes!
It’s an exciting time to be an active member in this medical specialty. Our field is moving exceedingly fast and it’s critical that physicians keep up with the progress. Whether it’s attending meetings or participating in cadaver courses, it’s critical that we stay up to date so that we can offer our patients the most current treatment options. Very recently, I attended a course on the Minuteman procedure. This procedure is designed to provide a minimally invasive spine fusion technique that can be completed in less than 30 minutes with only a very small incision. For the correct patient, it can be a life changing therapy. I have made the commitment to stay at forefront of the field and I’m extremely excited about what is still to come. Please feel free to ask about what new options may be available to help treat your pain condition.