Finding Chronic Pain Relief
Chronic pain has many causes and possible treatments—no single treatment works best for everyone. Even two people with the same kind of pain may need different treatments. It is important to find a doctor who specializes in pain management. Pain specialists can help you find a treatment that gives you the most relief.
Pain management doctors, or pain specialists
Pain specialists have advanced training in diagnosing, treating and rehabilitating people with chronic pain. They often work as part of a team with nurses, physical therapists and mental health professionals.
Types of pain therapies
The treatment your pain specialist recommends for you will depend on your condition and your response to previous treatments. Typically, a pain specialist will try a progression of therapies until your pain is sufficiently relieved. These may include behavioral therapies, pain medications, surgical procedures and neurostimulation therapies, such as spinal cord stimulation or dorsal root ganglion (DRG) therapy.
- Behavioral therapies can range from exercise and rehabilitative therapy to cognitive and behavioral modification. These are used to address physical strength, flexibility and muscular structure, as well as how your body and mind deal with stress.
- Over-the-counter pain medications can include aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen; they work to reduce pain and inflammation in the body.
- Opioids are powerful pain medications often prescribed when chronic pain does not respond to over-the-counter pain medications.
- Nerve blocks are used in a procedure that involves applying a local anesthetic or steroids directly to the nerve that is causing the pain. Nerve blocks may relieve pain temporarily by having a numbing effect or by decreasing the swelling of tissues around the nerve.
- Neurolysis is procedure that uses chemicals or temperatures to stop a nerve from sending pain signals to the brain.
- Radiofrequency therapy: A procedure that blocks nerve pathways to the brain by using a targeted treatment to inhibit the ability of the nerve to transmit a pain signal. St. Jude Medical provides specialized equipment to doctors for performing radiofrequency (RF) therapy procedures. To learn more about RF procedures, watch our video.
- Surgery is often used to correct an anatomical defect or defect due to an illness or injury.
Neurostimulation therapies differ according to, among other things, the type of pain they help manage.
- Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) involves electrical pulses applied to nerve endings through electrodes placed on the skin over the painful area. Researchers theorize that these pulses temporarily interrupt the transmission of pain signals from small sensory nerves at the site of the pain.
- Spinal cord stimulation is a therapy that influences the signals sent to the brain through the use of an implanted spinal cord stimulation device. This therapy uses mild electrical signals to intercept pain signals before they reach the brain.
- St. Jude Medical offers both trial and permanent spinal cord stimulation systems. Learn more about spinal cord stimulation and the type of pain it helps manage.
- Dorsal root ganglion (DRG) therapy involves technology similar to that used in spinal cord stimulation. However, in DRG therapy, the mild electrical signals target specific structures on the spinal column (areas of nerves known as a dorsal root ganglia) that are involved in a person’s localized pain. The system’s signals intercept the body’s pain signals before they reach the brain.
- St. Jude Medical offers both trial and permanent DRG therapy systems. Learn more about dorsal root ganglion therapy and the type of pain it helps manage.
Your physician or pain specialist will recommend whether any of these pain therapies are best for you and your condition.
Discover what receiving neurostimulation therapy can involve.