Advanced Treatments for Chronic Pain Management
Pain management in medicine is nothing new. After all, in the Revolutionary War, swigs of whiskey, brandy or rum were given to officers undergoing battlefield surgeries or amputations to help them deal with the pain. As modern medical technology has advanced, so have the medical methodologies used to treat patients’ pain.
Managing Pain a Part of Medical History
The history of man’s search for an effective analgesic, or pain killer, has been written many times. For instance, the introduction to modern analgesics in warfare, “A Brief History of Military Anesthesia,” published by the US Army’s Center of Military History, in Washington, DC notes that primitive man sought pain relief from “herbs, roots, seeds, flowers, opium, mandrake, hemlock, the mulberry tree, and even the garden lettuce, among other remedies,” including opium. By the 17th century, the drug of choice was alcohol.
Since the 20th century, pharmaceutical products have been used to reduce the patient experience of acute pain. These are basically divided into narcotic (also known as opioid) and non-narcotic (also known as non-opioid) drugs.
A more recent entry into the modern world of pain relief is “interventional pain management” medicine. The word “interventional” is essential to understanding this evolution. The field of interventional pain management uses not just pharmacological treatments, but also invasive, high-tech medical procedures.These procedures are not designed to cure an illness; they are undertaken primarily to alleviate pain itself.
Interventional Pain Management the Next Step in Relieving Acute, Disabling Pain?
Often, the evolution of a medical specialty is mirrored by the development of a dedicated professional organization that advocates for professional and public acceptance of a given area of expertise, offers training, and lobbies for greater reimbursement from government and private insurers.
The professional association dedicated to interventional pain management, the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, was formed in 1998.
Predecessor professional organizations concerned with medical management of pain were founded during the 1970s or 1980s. The International Association for the Study of Pain was founded in 1973, followed by the founding of its American chapter, the American Pain Society. The American Academy of Pain Medicine, which, it says, represents over 2,500 practitioners in the field it calls “comprehensive pain medicine,” was founded over a quarter of a century ago.
What Kinds of Pain are Treated by Invasive Medical Procedures?
Interventional pain management might benefit patients with a spectrum of conditions. For example, Los Angeles’ Cedars Sinai Medical Center (ranked in 2010 by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s best hospitals) markets and explains these treatments on its website. A page dedicated to Interventional Pain Management explains under what circumstances and conditions patients might be helped by the program. They include:
- chronic low back and neck pain
- post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- post-surgical pain
- chronic pain in the head, mouth and face, and
- cancer-related pain
Invasive Procedures to Combat Patient Pain
Interventional pain management uses techniques that are sufficiently invasive that the average person might assume they would be reserved for treating disease itself.
For instance, interventional pain management ranges from such procedures as injecting an anesthetic medicine or steroid to reduce the pain of nerves or muscles, to using a process called “radio-frequency ablation” or “cryoablation” that stops a specific nerve from working for a long period of time, according to Cedars’ Sinai online consumer education material.
Health Careers in Interventional Pain Management
Physicians can become board certified in interventional pain management. Dozens of nursing schools also offer special programs in this field. Health care providers can carve out careers in interventional pain management.
A new approach to an old medical problem of treating patient pain, interventional pain management offers patients ways to relieve acute and disabling pain through invasive medical and surgical procedures.
Sources for this article, and for more information:
American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians
International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP)
American Academy of Pain Medicine