Depending on the underlying condition or the patient’s response to a previous treatment, the doctor can offer one or more of the following advanced interventions:
Nerve Ablation is done when a patient has had a good response to a nerve block injection because the doctor then knows where the pain is coming from. Your physician will use thermal energy—heat (radio frequency ablation; also called RFA) or cold (cryoablation)—to deaden the nerves, and that will provide longer lasting relief than nerve block injections.
Discectomy is a procedure to relieve pain associated with a bulging disc. The doctor uses a thin probe to go inside the disc and remove some of the thick shock-absorbing substance there. That will reduce the pressure the disc is exerting on the surrounding nerves, which should reduce pain.
Vertebroplasty is used for patients who have suffered a vertebral fracture. The doctor injects a cement solution into the fractured vertebral body to stabilize it. Once it is set (about 30 minutes) the vertebra will no longer be able to move in an uncoordinated manner which will stop the irritation of the surrounding tissues.
Kyphoplasty (vertebral augmentation) is very similar to a vertebroplasty and may result in restoring the normal height of the fractured vertebra (but that is not always a necessary goal of treatment).
Discogram is a procedure that enables the physician to pinpoint the source of pain by determining the exact nature and location of disc injuries. The physician injects a dye into several adjacent discs to try to duplicate the patient’s normal pain, and then analyzes the pattern of the dye dispersion to identify bulges or tears in the disk. It is a diagnostic procedure only and does not relieve pain.
Spinal cord stimulator is a device the physician implants under the skin. It generates electrical impulses inside the spinal column to mask, override or cancel out the transmission of pain signals.
Pain pumps can be used for patients with intractable pain that has not responded to any other treatment. It is a small device implanted under the skin which delivers a slow, steady flow of pain medications directly into the spinal column.
IDET (intradiscal electrothermal annuloplasty) is used to treat partial tears in a disc. It uses heat energy to thicken the wall of the disc to stop intradiscal substance from leaking into the surrounding tissues.
RACZ procedure uses a hypertonic saline solution to dissolve adhesions which may be causing or aggravating an underlying pain condition. Adhesions commonly develop following back surgery.
Blood Patch is a treatment for headaches caused by leaking spinal fluid following a puncture in the spinal column. Myelograms, obstetric epidurals and diagnostic lumbar punctures are the most common procedures that may cause these headaches to occur. The doctor draws blood from the patient and then injects it into the spinal column where the leak is—as the blood clots it seals the puncture site. Once the leak is stopped, the headache should resolve quickly.
You are in good hands at The Pain Center at Memorial. With these treatments available from our highly trained physicians, we believe we can help you manage your pain so you can live a more productive life.