Pain Treatments & Procedures
When you have pain, you have options. Our pain physicians use a variety of procedures to reduce your discomfort and improve your life.
Your Pain Assessment
Whether you suffer from back pain, neck pain or that “can’t quite put my finger on it” kind of pain, a comprehensive assessment will get to the source. Once identified, your pain doctor will assess which type of pain it is: nerve pain, chronic pain, arthritic pain or radiating pain. From there, you’ll get started on a path of treatment to resolve or greatly reduce your pain condition.
Pain Conditions We Treat
Pain can come from anywhere. Whatever pain you’re experiencing, there are treatments to get you back to feeling like you again. Our pain physicians provide immediate relief and continuing care for pain conditions both short- and long-term, including:
- Chronic pain conditions like migraines or tension headaches, fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy, shingles and spondylosis.
- Neck and back pain stemming from mechanical stress, sciatica, whiplash, trauma or workplace injury.
- Spine and spinal cord issues like degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis and complications from osteoporosis.
- Joint pain due to arthritis, degenerative joint disease, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis and other common conditions.
- Chest and abdominal pain from pancreatitis, intractable angina, chronic constipation, inflammatory bowel disease and other stomach or abdominal organ issues.
Interventions & Procedures to Help Manage Your Pain
Managing a pain condition hinges on open communication. Establishing clear goals to get your pain under control, whether that means complete relief or just getting back to work, helps your pain specialist personalize care to your needs.
The Iowa Clinic uses a multi-modal approach to provide interventional pain management, meaning we’ll use whatever means brings you relief. These common pain procedures are typically accompanied by other conservative treatments like physical therapy, home exercises and medication.
An epidural is a steroid injection into the space surrounding your spinal cord, which is called the epidural space. The epidural is injected at a very specific location to reduce pain and inflammation in your back, neck, arms or legs. This procedure is commonly used for long-lasting relief of nerve pain. For chronic pain, epidurals can be repeated as often as every three to four months so you can stay active and ahead of your pain.
There are three different types of epidural steroid injections that target different areas of your spine:
- Lumbar epidurals are injected into the lower back to treat low back pain and leg pain.
- Cervical epidurals target the neck to reduce pain and inflammation in that area as well as pain that radiates to the shoulder or arm.
- Thoracic epidurals go into the middle or upper back to ease back pain and radiating arm pain.
Facet, Nerve & Plexus Blocks
Blocks are another type of injection that offer immediate relief from both short-term and long-term pain of various sorts:
- Facet blocks are administered in the facet joints between vertebrae in the neck, chest and back to relieve back pain due to injury or arthritis.
- Nerve blocks help identify and treat pain, burning and tingling that move from your back to your head, legs or feet.
- Plexus blocks help relieve abdominal pain, most commonly due to cancer or pancreatitis.
Radiofrequency ablation uses heat to destroy the nerve fibers that send pain signals to your brain, providing immediate relief, restored function and long-term results. Pain relief lasts anywhere from nine months to two years, which helps decrease the need for long-term pain medication and other interventional procedures. Radiofrequency ablation is used to treat arthritic, neck, back, knee, pelvic and nerve pain. The procedure can be repeated if the nerves regrow and the pain returns.
Spinal Cord Stimulators
Instead of steroid injections, wires can be inserted into the epidural space surrounding the spine. Once implanted, the wires provide a low level electrical charge to the spinal cord via a battery. Working similarly to a block, the constant stimulation blocks the pain signals that are sent to the brain, providing relief. A spinal cord stimulator is an option for those with chronic pain unresponsive to other treatments and who want to avoid spinal surgery.
Pain medication requires thoughtful care and monitoring from a pain management physician. There’s a variety of medications and strengths to help ease particular types of pain, and each person responds differently. We help you manage your pain medications to ensure you have the right prescriptions to get relief, limit side effects and control breakthrough pain.