Physicians have long looked for practical ways to address pain and discomfort. For many years, managing pain relied on the frequent use of opioid-based medications. But given that the downsides of long-term opioid use have been well documented, physicians are now much more reluctant to prescribe these powerful drugs.
That’s why pain management provided at an ambulatory surgery center has become a critical service for many patients. An ASC is able to provide injections and minimally invasive outpatient procedures designed to help patients manage acute and chronic pain.
What is Pain Management and How Does it Work?
So what does a pain management doctor do? For most patients, the work of a pain management doctor will revolve around helping you manage discomfort.
What is involved in pain management? Treatment plans are developed for each patient’s individual needs and goals. Generally, the goal of pain management is to improve mobility, help patients achieve a better quality of life, and minimize discomfort as much as possible.
In 2016, 50 million individuals in the United States alone suffered from chronic pain. A constant level of pain can make it difficult to achieve even simple tasks: cooking, shopping for groceries, even sleeping can become challenging.
Whether your discomfort is local or generalized, taking a comprehensive approach to managing your pain can help you achieve greater relief.
How is Pain Management Achieved?
Because opioid prescriptions are largely avoided except for very specific pain issues (for good reason), the pain management intervention you receive at an ambulatory surgery center will often consist of a special injection procedure performed on an outpatient basis. Those injections could include:
- Epidural injections: For those that experience neck pain, back pain, or pain radiating down an arm or leg, an epidural injection is sometimes the best way to manage symptoms. An epidural injection of steroids, for example, can help reduce inflammation and diminish pain and discomfort.
- SI joint injection: The Sacroiliac joint is located in the pelvis. There are a significant number of tendons, ligaments, and nerves that cross paths around this joint. As such, it’s often a source of pain. Managing this pain is sometimes achieved by injecting the SI Joint with a mixture of corticosteroids and anesthetic.
- Radiofrequency ablation: Also called “RFA” or “nerve burning procedures”. This set of procedures is done to diagnose and treat pain from the small joints of the spine and sometimes from the knee. The procedure is well-tolerated and provides months or even years of relief under the correct circumstances.
- Spinal Cord Stimulation: Also called “SCS”, this procedure involves placing 1 or 2 wires through a needle and directly onto the spinal cord to in turn use electricity to “scramble” pain signals and help treat chronic pain when other measures have failed.
It’s easy to see that these types of procedures are not something that could be conducted in an in-home or primary care setting. However, an ASC provides patients with the opportunity to undergo these procedures in a comfortable and welcoming (and non-hospital) setting.
These procedures are used because they are safe, effective, and powerful ways to manage pain without many of the drawbacks associated with opioid-based medications.
Can Chronic Pain be Managed?
Chronic pain can have a wide variety of causes and origins. In some cases, chronic pain is the result of the disease. For other patients, pain may be due to an injury. Still, others develop chronic pain for unknown reasons.
Managing chronic pain is possible, and with the right approach, you can do so without the need for opioid-based pain killers. Talk to your doctor today about seeing Dr. Dery or Dr. Goldish to discuss your pain management options.