In my last blog I detailed how I diagnose and begin conservative treatment on a patient who suffers from Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. In this post, I discuss more Interventional forms of treatment, which are the most powerful tools I can use to help a patient.
If the patient does not respond to the first course of treatment, interventional techniques may be used. Diagnostic injections are used initially to pinpoint the pain generator, and then therapeutic injections can be used to provide more long lasting relief. Although injections may not be a cure, they can reduce a person’s pain to a level where they can tolerate physical therapy, become more functional, and return to activities that they enjoy.
For patients with intractable spine and limb pain that has not responded well to other forms of treatment, I have had great success with the use of spinal cord stimulation. Spinal Cord Stimulation, or neuromodulation, works by applying an electrical current within the spinal canal to block chronic pain signals in the spinal cord from being perceived by the brain. This is accomplished by placing soft, thin wires, called “leads”, near the spinal column. These leads emit an electrical current which replaces the painful sensation with a more pleasant sensation. This therapy can be non-surgically “trialed” for a few days to see if it provides pain relief and is well-tolerated.
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome is a difficult-to-treat diagnosis that does not always respond well to conventional methods of treatment. In partnership with a Fellowship-trained Interventional Pain Management Specialist, the patient should be able to reduce their pain and increase their function to a level that provides them with a reasonable quality of life. Helping patients find this balance is my goal and reward.