Interventional Pain Management for Chronic Pain: Rhizotomy, Spinal Cord Stimulation, and Spinal Pumps
Radiofrequency rhizotomy temporarily turns off a nerve's ability to transmit pain signals. During the pain free period—which usually for 6-12 months—your doctor will probably highly recommend physical therapy. The physical therapist can help you work on underlying physical problems that are causing or adding to your pain.
Spinal Cord Stimulation
Spinal cord stimulation is usually one of the last treatment options tried. A stimulator is implanted in your body, and it sends electrical pulses directly to the spinal cord. Those pulses change how the brain interprets pain; essentially, they interrupt the pain signal.
Research suggests that spinal cord stimulation is a good option for patients who had spinal surgery, but the surgery didn't reduce their pain. It also appears to be a good option for chronic neuropathic pain.
Similar to spinal cord stimulation, spinal pumps are usually one of the last treatment options tried. A pump is implanted in your body, and it sends medication straight into the spinal fluid. It offers more constant pain relief than oral medication, plus you won't have to take as much medication. With oral medication, you sometimes have to take higher doses to get adequate pain relief since the medication spreads through your body—it doesn't go directly to the nervous system. The pump may help to reduce medication doses and their side effects.
Other Interventional Pain Management Techniques
Injections are another interventional pain management technique. You can learn about the different types of injections used for chronic pain in this article.
- Devulder J, De Laat M, Van Bastelaere M, Rolly G. Spinal Cord stimulation: A valuable treatment for chronic failed back surgery patients. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. 1997;13:296-301.