At least 100 million Americans live with chronic pain. For many, the pain makes it difficult to sleep while affecting energy levels and the ability to perform everyday tasks. In seeking relief, patients often hear terms like interventional pain management and non-interventional pain management. Unfortunately, with the numerous treatment options available today, it is easy to become confused.
Novus Spine & Pain Center’s pain clinic in Lakeland, Florida, helps patients with pain management procedures to best help relieve their chronic pain. This article explains the differences between non-interventional and interventional pain management procedures.
Non-Interventional Pain Management
Typically, doctors begin treating chronic pain with non-interventional procedures to provide relief before using more aggressive treatments. The goal of non-interventional pain management is to obtain chronic pain relief without the need to pierce or cut the skin with an injection or surgical procedure.
Some non-interventional procedures rely on pharmacological (drug) treatments. While medication can help relieve many types of pain, there are also medication-free, non-interventional (non-invasive) pain management techniques.
Types of Non-Interventional Pain Management Procedures
Various pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments are available for non-invasive chronic pain management.
Depending on the cause of chronic pain, doctors often use pharmacological treatments alone or in combination with other chronic pain treatment options. The medicines include both over-the-counter and prescription medications such as:
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), and aspirin.
- Acetaminophen (analgesics) like Tylenol.
- Muscle relaxants can help treat the pain caused by muscle spasms.
- Antidepressants and Antiseizure Medications are often helpful in relieving or reducing nerve pain.
- Corticosteroids are cortisone-like medicines to help reduce swelling, redness, itching, and allergic reactions.
There are a variety of benefits to overcoming chronic pain without medication. Besides not forgetting to take their medicine, the patient avoids unpleasant side effects prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause.
Some of the non-invasive, non-drug pain treatment options include:
- Acupuncture: Unlike an injection, acupuncture is the insertion of a fine, sterilized needle into the skin at specific points to help release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and stimulate nerve and muscle tissue.
- Biofeedback: A relaxation and breathing technique aided by heart rate and blood pressure monitoring by a biofeedback machine. The patient learns to relax specific muscles to reduce the body’s response to pain.
- Cold and Heat: Homemade and over-the-counter cold and hot packs can help reduce pain and are often used in conjunction with exercise.
- Chiropractic Treatments: Special hands-on techniques by a licensed chiropractor adjust the body by making minor adjustments to the musculoskeletal system (muscles, bones, tendons, and joints).
- Deep Breathing/Meditation: These relaxation techniques can help ease pain by providing a sense of control over the body, which turns down the “fight or flight” response, which can often worsen chronic muscle tension and pain.
- Diet: A good diet can help aid the digestive process, reduce the risk of heart disease, manage weight, and improve blood sugar levels. A well-balanced diet is essential for anyone living with chronic pain.
- Exercise: Physical exertion can help restore normal motion, increase strength and flexibility, and help produce natural endorphins (brain chemicals), which can help block pain signals. Physical activity helps interrupt the cycle of pain and reduced mobility found in some chronic conditions, like arthritis and fibromyalgia.
- Massage: A gentle therapeutic massage can often help ease tension, discomfort, and pain by introducing a competing sensation to override pain signals to the brain. Even a gentle, circular rubbing of the feet, hands, or back can be helpful.
- Shiatsu (Finger Pressure Therapy): The massage technique of applying pressure with fingers, thumbs, and elbows along energy lines in the body to help relieve pain.
- Music Therapy: Scientists believe listening to music can help ease pain by making the patient feel good. Hearing pleasant music triggers the release of dopamine, which can affect how we feel.
- Physical and Occupational Therapy: Physical therapy can help relieve pain, while occupational therapy helps patients live with pain, injury, and disability. A physical therapist designs exercises to help preserve or improve strength and mobility. An occupational therapist teaches patients how to perform daily activities to avoid aggravating their pain.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator (TENS): Applying a low-voltage electric current through patches on the skin near the pain helps interrupt pain signals to the brain.
- Yoga and Tai Chi: Two exercises incorporating breath control, meditation, and gentle movements to stretch and strengthen muscles and help manage pain.
- Support Groups: Meeting with other chronic pain sufferers who understand what you are going through can make you feel less alone. The support group can often provide additional skills for coping with pain.
Every patient is unique, and individual treatment options depend on several factors, including the type of pain and the cause. Sometimes a combination of medicine and non-medicine therapies is the best non-interventional pain management program. However, should the non-invasive treatment options not provide relief, interventional pain treatments are available to treat chronic pain.
Interventional Pain Management
Interventional pain management can be helpful for chronic pain sufferers who have not found relief from other pain management procedures. The earliest interventional pain management efforts go back to 1899, with the origins of regional analgesia and nerve blocks. These procedures help prevent a nerve from sending pain signals to the brain for an extended period.
Types of Interventional Pain Management Procedures
Some of the more common interventional procedures include:
- Radiofrequency Nerve Ablation is the delivery of precisely controlled radiofrequency waves to heat and destroy nerve tissue to reduce pain signals to the brain.
- Discography is the injection of a special dye into one or more spinal discs as a diagnostic test to determine if they are the source of pain. The dye makes the disc visible on a fluoroscope monitor and X-ray film.
- Percutaneous Discectomy/Nucleoplasty is a procedure to remove tissue from the spinal disc to relieve pressure on nerves.
- Injections of steroids and other medicine target pain points in muscles, nerves, and joints to help reduce inflammation and ease the pain.
- Pain pump is a surgically implanted device designed to deliver pain medication directly to the source of pain.
- Nerve block is an injection of medicine to interrupt nerve-to-brain signals to relieve pain and help reduce inflammation. Sometimes a block is used as a diagnostic tool.
- Rhizotomy is a procedure using surgery, chemicals, or electrodes to destroy nerve fibers to stop pain signals.
- Spinal Cord Stimulation delivers an electrical current to the pain source via a tiny, implanted medical device.
Conditions Treated with Interventional Pain Management
Some of the pain conditions and disorders treated with interventional pain management techniques include:
- Central pain syndromes (post-stroke pain, post-spinal cord injury pain).
- Cervical and lumbar strain.
- Chest wall pain.
- Chronic low back and neck pain.
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy).
- Degenerative disc disease — cervical, thoracic, and lumbar.
- Facet disease — cervical, thoracic, and lumbar.
- Facial pain — TMJ, neuromas (trauma), atypical facial pain.
- Headaches (occipital neuralgia, migraines, tension headache, cluster headache).
- Herniated disc.
- Musculoskeletal pain.
- Myofascial pain syndrome.
- Peripheral or diabetic neuropathy.
- Phantom limb pain/post-amputation pain.
- Post-herpetic neuralgia and herpes zoster.
- Post-surgical pain.
- Post-traumatic pain syndrome.
- Radiculopathy, cervical, thoracic and lumbar.
- Sacroiliac joint pain.
- Whiplash-associated disorders.
Novus Spine & Pain Center
Dr. Torres established Novus Spine & Pain Center in Lakeland, Florida, with the goal of providing the highest quality pain management care to every patient. Whether pain results from an injury or another condition, Dr. Torres offers many different treatment options.
Novus Spine & Pain Center utilizes a comprehensive approach and cutting-edge therapies to restore normal function and allow patients to regain an active lifestyle while minimizing the need for opiates. As our patient, you are our top priority. Our goal is to help you achieve the best possible quality of life.
Our Mission Statement: To provide the best quality of life to people suffering from pain by providing state-of-the-art treatments, knowledge and skill, compassion, and respect for all.
For your convenience, you may schedule an appointment online, request a call back, or call our office at 863-473-7849.
Difference Between Non-Interventional and Interventional Pain Management Resources
Non-invasive Pain Management Techniques (Spine Health)
Pain Management (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center)
Multimodal Pain Management: A Better Approach To Pain Control (Mayo Clinic)
8 Non-Invasive Pain Relief Techniques That Really Work (Harvard Health Publishing)
11 Tips for Living With Chronic Pain (WebMD)
4 Ways To Manage Chronic Pain Without Medication (Henry Ford Health System)
“Where’s the Music?” Using Music Therapy for Pain Management (PubMed)
Non-invasive, Non-pharmacological Treatment for Chronic Pain (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)
Interventional Pain Management: A Comprehensive Approach to Chronic Pain (Spine Universe)
Pain Clinics: What to Know (WebMD)
Pain Medicine (Mayo Clinic)
Pain Management (Johns Hopkins)
Do You Need to See an Interventional Pain Specialist? (Hospital for Special Surgery)
Interventional Pain Management (Cedars-Sinai)
Interventional Pain Procedures Under Imaging Guidance (Mount Sinai)
Interventional pain management (Wikipedia)