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Comprehensive Pain Care

The Pain Center at Northwest Surgical Hospital performs a wide range of pain relieving procedures.

Dorsal Column Stimulation

Dorsal column stimulation or spinal cord stimulation is a procedure that uses an electrical current to treat chronic pain.  A small pulse generator, implanted in the back, transmits electrical pulses to the spinal cord.  These pulses interfere with the nerve impulses responsible for pain due to nerve damage.  Implanting the stimulator is considered to be a simple procedure.  The doctor usually will first insert a trial stimulator through the skin to give the treatment a trial run.  If the trial is successful, your doctor can implant a more permanent stimulator.

Discograms

A discogram is an X-ray examination of the intervertebral discs.  The test is performed by injecting dye into the center of the injured disc.  The discogram is used to determine which disc(s) are damaged and if those discs are causing pain.  The intervertebral discs are fibrocartiliaginous cushions serving as the spine’s shock absorbing system, which protect the vertebrae, nerves and other structures of the spine.

Epidural Steroid Injections

An epidural steroid injection (ESI) is a combination of a corticosteroid and a local anesthetic pain relief medicine.  Corticosteroids are strong anti-inflammatory medicines used to relieve pain.  The local anesthetic medicine helps give you immediate pain relief.  Corticosteroid medicines take longer to have an effect.  An ESI is injected into the space around the spinal cord and nerve roots (epidural space).  The injection does not go into the membrane (thecal sac) that contains the spinal cord and nerve roots.

Facet Joint Blocks

Facet joint blocks or zygapophysial joint blocks are performed using a local anesthetic to determine whether a facet joint is a source of pain.  Facet joints are located on the back of the spine, where one vertebra slightly overlaps another.  These joints guide and restrict the spine’s movement.

Radiofrequency Ablations

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is used to reduce chronic low back and neck pain and pain related to degeneration of joints from arthritis.  An electrical current produced by a radio wave is used to heat up a small area of nerve tissue, thereby decreasing pain signals from the specific area.

Sacroiliac Joint Injections

A sacroiliac joint injection (SIJI) serves several purposes.  The injection contains a local anesthetic that is placed in the joint, the amount of immediate pain relief will help confirm or deny the sacroiliac joint as the source of pain.  Also injected with the local anesthetic is a corticosteroid, which may provide long-term pain relief.  The sacroiliac joint is a large joint located between the spine and each side of the pelvis.