Many changes are happening in the pain management community. These include an increased focus on diagnostics, where leading pain management physicians are finding new ways to correctly diagnose patients with spine pain before moving forward with the treatment. If you’re experiencing spine or low back pain in Austin, you can find new and advanced pain management and treatment trends available. Doctors are finding out more about sources of spine and back pain, which has resulted in an increase in selective interventions for conditions that are not known. Now it’s possible to provide real diagnosis for pain. For example, doctors are now injecting a numbing agent into the disc instead of the traditional provocative discography where an irritating substance was used. With this new numbing agent, a discogram can now be effectively performed on the thoracic, cervical and lumbar spine, and also in an outpatient base. There are several other new trends in spine pain management.
Refinement in Interventions
There hasn’t been a big change in the core spinal pain management intervention, but it is constantly evolving. Many of the traditional procedures are slowly being refined. For instance, more specialists are practicing transforaminal epidural, a procedure where the medicine is placed on one or both sides of the spine to provide a direct path for treating nerve or disc pain. In addition to that, patients who traditionally treated facet joint pain with steroid joint injections are now treating it with radiofrequency techniques, which works on the nerves blocking pain from the joints.
Many pain management physicians use spinal decompression to help their patients. The procedure is relatively cost-effective as it is done in a physician’s office or surgery center, rather than in a hospital. For example, patients suffering from herniated discs undergo percutaneous decompression to reduce the herniation and alleviate pain. With spinal compressions, patients are able to recover fast enough to go back to work in three weeks.
Biologic solutions for spine pain management is another trend that could be huge in the future. The focus is going to be stem cell therapy for spinal pain management. Stem cells can be injected into the affected area of the spine to help treat the discs and heal the nerves. Additionally, physicians are performing genetic manipulation, where they inject biological cells inside of the disc to promote cell growth, though the technology is still undergoing numerous FDA clearance processes.
Vertebral Body Augmentation
For patients with metastatic cancer to the vertebrae or vertebral body fractures, a pain management doctor will perform vertebroplasty or kyphoplasty. These procedures don’t require open surgery and are done through injections to avoid incisions and thereby avoid complications.
Comprehensive Spine Centers
A patient can visit a spine surgeon, physical therapist, pain management specialist, primary care physician or chiropractor when they have spinal pain issues and the first intervention they will receive will often differ. However, specialists are now coming together to form comprehensive spine care centers so they can focus more on the efficacy and the cost of spine care. In comprehensive spine care centers, different physicians such as rehabilitation specialists, spine surgeons, physical therapists, and pain management physicians will work in the same facility and will be able to coordinate the patient’s care. If specialists in different backgrounds can work in a coordinated fashion, it will help standardize spine treatment.