If you’ve spent any time perusing the Integrated Pain Consultants website, you know we have a lot of alternative therapies for pain management that are non-invasive or minimally invasive. We’re home to Dr. Nikesh Seth, voted “Top Doc” every year since 2019 and the Top Doc in Pain Management for 2019 as voted by his peers—and you don’t want anyone but the top doctor taking care of you when you’re in pain. Every treatment plan at our clinic is customized for the patient, but there are a few popular treatments that you’ll want to know more about as we move into summer.
Radiofrequency ablation, also known as RFA, is a minimally invasive treatment that stops nerves from sending pain signals to the brain. It doesn’t stop the source of the pain, but it can reduce or stop the pain itself. It’s often recommended for those with chronic pain, particularly if it’s in the neck, back, or due to arthritis in the joints.
Radiofrequency waves create heat that “burn” the nerves causing the troubling pain sensations. RFA can help avoid or delay surgery, offers immediate relief, and has no recovery time. You can even use RFA to decrease pain medication use or stop it entirely while enjoying better function of the affected area. If you’ve had success with a nerve receptor block injection, you’re likely a good candidate for RFA. Most treatments last 15 – 45 minutes in an office setting and require only a local anesthetic before the needle that delivers the heat current is inserted into the pain region.
Accelerated Recovery Performance, or ARP therapy, is suitable for both acute and chronic pain. This treatment was created based on the fact that injuries occur when the body can’t absorb a force trauma—whether it’s from stumbling off a curb or getting in a car crash. Athletes often get injured when their body’s muscles are too tired to properly shorten and absorb force. ARP is very popular with pro athletes, and it’s often used to warm up before a practice or game. However, it can be just as effective for non-professional athletes.
Cells in the damaged part of the body experience a change in their electric charge. The ARPWave machine uses a bio-electric and electrical current to shift this condition back to pre-injury status. Results are immediate, but do require work on the patient’s part. You need to move during ARPWave therapy in order to find the injury’s origin, and the technology scans for “hot spots.” These spots are where electrical disruption has occurred, and once they are identified then undoing that damage can begin.
You don’t have to live with pain. A sympathetic block is a quick injection of local anesthetic in the sympathetic nerves. These nerve cell clusters are found at the front of the spine and they’re part of the body’s “fight or flight” response. Sympathetic nerves can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and constrict blood flow. They’re also in charge of sending pain signals, sometimes well after an injury has occurred. Injecting an anesthetic into these nerves provides patients with immediate relief.
Sympathetic blocks can be used to treat a number of complaints including complex regional pain syndrome, phantom limb pain, vascular insufficiencies due to vessel blocks in the legs, and diabetic neuropathy. Sympathetic blocks are both a diagnostic and therapeutic tool, which means they can help diagnose a condition and/or treat certain conditions.
A medial branch block is similar to a sympathetic block, but the anesthetic is inserted into the medial branch nerves. These nerves supply innervation to the facet joints, which are found in the spine. A number of acute and chronic conditions can cause inflammation in these joints. A common type of pain in this category can be found in the lower back with pain that travels down the buttocks to the thighs. Alternatively, affected facet joints in the neck can cause neck and shoulder pain.
Similar to sympathetic block injections, medial branch blocks are fast and can provide immediate relief. A local anesthetic is also applied to numb the skin for maximum comfort. Medial branch blocks are usually used as a diagnostic test, though if the correct pain source is identified you will enjoy pain relief for a few hours or days. Medial branch blocks can be the first step in determining a longer lasting pain management plan.
Ready to learn more about these and other minimally invasive options? Schedule a detailed evaluation today by booking your appointment at IPC or calling (480) 626-2552.