The Invasive Management of Pain: Diagnosis and New Treatment Options
Both the diagnosis and treatment of pain are evolving, especially in interventional approaches. Diagnosis of low back pain combines old and new methodologies, in particular, it involves an expanded role for ultrasound. While low back pain is a common complaint, there are many etiologies to the condition which must be explored before a final diagnosis can be made and treatment planned. Tumors and infections are rarely involved in low back pain but should be ruled out in the initial phase itself since failing to address them early can have devastating consequences. Some invasive treatments seem promising in the management of low back pain.
Treating musculoskeletal pain with regenerative medicine, such as platelet-rich plasma, holds great promise. Autologous blood products are safe and may help stimulate the body’s own responses for regeneration. The so-called “orthobiologics” play a role in sports medicine and the treatment of musculoskeletal pain. Neuromodulation, especially spinal cord stimulation, is undergoing a renaissance with new waveforms, devices, and a greater albeit incomplete understanding of its mechanisms of action. Spinal cord stimulation is not a first-line therapy and not all patients or all back problems respond to this treatment. Nevertheless, the therapy can be safe, effective, and cost-effective with appropriate patient selection. Radiofrequency ablation of nerves in the form of neurotomy can be effective in reducing the pain of osteoarthritis. These procedures, including the newer cooled radiofrequency neurotomy, can restore function, reduce pain, and may potentially have an opioid-sparing effect. Technical expertise in nerve and anatomy is needed for the use of this technique. This review article aims to provide updated information on some invasive intervention techniques in pain management.
Mayoral Rojals V, Amescua Garcia C, Denegri P, et al. (July 31, 2023) The Invasive Management of Pain: Diagnosis and New Treatment Options. Cureus 15(7): e42717. doi:10.7759/cureus.42717