More than 75 million Americans suffer from chronic, debilitating pain, according to the National Pain Foundation. In 2003, Research America released the results of a survey of 1,000 people in the United States that showed that 57% of all adults have had chronic or recurrent pain in the last year and that 75% of people currently in pain had to make adjustments to their lifestyle due to their pain. Chronic pain also accounts for more than 80% of all physician visits and leads to time off work and billions of dollars in lost productivity. With the prevalence and the exorbitant cost involved, it would seem only natural that health care workers would be clambering to find better ways to treat this epidemic problem. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and thus pain remains poorly understood and grossly under-treated. The complex mechanisms of pain transmission coupled with its inherent subjective nature creates an intimidating battle and requires physicians who are both comfortable with its diagnosis and more importantly who have an appreciation for the art of treating those in pain.
Most pain sufferers have tried conventional pain relief methods, which may include medication, physical therapy, and functional restoration programs, as well as psychological behavioral interventions and chiropractic care. But for chronic pain sufferers, these remedies either do not bring relief or provide only temporary relief. Those dealing with chronic, debilitating pain are now turning to interventional pain specialists to provide manageable pain relief.
The art of pain medicine allows the Interventional Pain Specialist to directly affect people’s lives. The very nature of pain requires a multidisciplinary approach to management and presents the physician a greater sense of accountability to these patients. It is easy to understand the far reaching devastation of chronic pain. Lost productivity and income often leads to depression and strained relationships, ultimately affecting all aspects of the patient’s life. Thus appropriate treatment requires a wide array of modalities. Pain management specialists are trained in both interventional and non-interventional techniques and are also able to appreciate the need for physical and occupational therapy, psychopharmacology, and alternative treatments. Through understanding the organic, psychological, and social factors which contribute to pain perception, interventional pain physicians are better able to treat the patient’s pain experience.
An interventional pain specialist has extensive training in order to treat a variety of spine and non-spine related conditions. They combine their knowledge in both neurological and musculoskeletal anatomy and utilize available tools such as physical exam, musculoskeletal and neurological imaging, and electrodiagnosis to accurately identify a patient’s condition. These conditions include work and sports related spinal injuries, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease or herniated discs, radiculopathy or “pinched nerve,” facet joint arthritis, hip joint arthritis, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, compression fractures and pain associated with multiple neck or back operations. There are a variety of cutting edge interventional pain procedures that can be utilized to reduce and/or alleviate pain.
If you’ve tried a conventional approach to relieving pain and you’ve been unsuccessful, it may be time to speak to your physician about an interventional pain management approach. Severe pain can affect every aspect of your life; your work, your health, and your everyday functioning. It’s time to start living without it.
About the Author
Dr. Raj N. Sureja, MD is an Interventional Pain Management Specialist at the Orthopaedic and Spine Center in Newport News, VA, a leading provider of Newport News Physical Therapy, Open MRI, and Newport News Orthopedics.