Pain medicine is a form of medicine that seeks to treat chronic and acute pain through management strategies implemented in a holistic manner. Most pain management therapies can be divided into one of two categories: traditional and interventional pain management.
Neither traditional nor interventional therapies are superior. As any good pain management physician can tell you, the best therapy for any patient is the one that works best with the fewest negative side effects. With that said, a lack of knowledge about interventional pain management among patients prevents far too many from seeking interventional therapies.
Traditional pain management is designed around treatments that in no way invade the body. Typical examples include prescription medications, over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, hot compresses, and cold packs.
Interventional pain management calls for minimally invasive procedures that interrupt the pain cycle rather than simply masking the pain. The interventional approach is designed to prevent pain signals from ever reaching the brain.
The most common type of interventional pain management therapy is injection therapy. It is easily observed in patients suffering from lower back pain as a result of inflammation. The doctor injects the site of the inflammation with a combination of anti-inflammatories and anesthesia.
The anesthesia provides immediate pain relief while the anti-inflammatory medication addresses the root cause of the pain. A steroidal anti-inflammatory can reduce inflammation and keep it at bay for months at a time.
Again, neither traditional nor interventional pain management is superior. Both have their place. In the traditional pain management setting, it should be noted that prescription pain killers and OTC medications are not the only options. For pain management to truly succeed, every option needs to be on the table.
Equally important is the holistic approach that pain medicine physicians and clinics tend to focus on. The holistic approach to medicine treats the entire person rather than just the particular symptoms that person is complaining of. We have found that the holistic approach leads to better pain management.
Interventional pain management fits very well with the holistic approach for the simple fact that interventional therapies do not preclude the use of other treatments. Patients are often encouraged to combine interventional therapies with lifestyle changes, nutritional changes, and even physical and occupational therapy.
Traditional pain management was born out of a general dissatisfaction with the anesthesia model of treating acute and chronic pain. Likewise, interventional pain management was developed as an alternative to relying mainly on medication to treat pain. Both disciplines have proven successful over the years.
Which approach is right for you? It is not an either-or thing. You and your pain management doctor should look at both. You deserve nothing less. In fact, you deserve something that works – whether said therapy is considered traditional or interventional.
Most of the patients seen by pain management physicians suffer from chronic pain. This is not to say that acute pain cannot be treated at a pain management clinic but, rather, that it is normally treated by GPs and other specialists. Chronic pain is what pain clinics specialize in.
Chronic pain is any pain that is experienced daily, or at least on a regular basis, for at least several months. If chronic paint is something that you live with, are you and your doctor working together to manage it? If not, we invite you to check out KindlyMD. We focus less on the differences between traditional and interventional pain management and more on helping our patients feel better.