MDNews

Advanced Treatments, Reduced Pain




Chronic pain can have a dramatic impact on a patient’s quality of life. When treating a complex issue such as chronic pain, the more treatment options available to a patient, the more likely a complete solution can be identified.

At the Twin Cities Pain Clinic, providing patients with a comprehensive array of pain management services is an investment in the quality of life for each patient. The mission of the clinic is to take an individual approach to the assessment and treatment of each patient’s chronic pain and determine the most successful and beneficial courses of therapy. To offer patients the full spectrum of pain management techniques, the Twin Cities Pain Clinic must actively identify services that can provide maximum benefit.

One of the advanced pain relief procedures offered by the Twin Cities Pain Clinic is radiofrequency neurotomy. Intended to identify and interrupt the nerves that contribute to chronic pain, the procedure has proven to be a valuable asset in the treatment of spinal pain that originates from the facet joints. The process of radiofrequency neurotomy begins by identifying which facet joint or joints are causing the pain. A series of two test injections are performed on separate days. Individual facet nerves are numbed to see if the pain can be temporarily stopped. If both test injections are successful at temporarily alleviating the pain, then the painful joint has likely been identified. Statistics show that a patient who has passed both test injections has about an 80% chance of getting pain relief with the final step, which is called radiofrequency neurotomy.

“The radiofrequency neurotomy procedure is performed using a needle that emits radiofrequency waves, which heat up the tiny amount of tissue around the end of the needle,” explains Andrew Will, M.D., Medical Director of the Twin Cities Pain Clinic. “When this needle tip is placed next to the facet nerves, the heat produced by the needle disrupts the nerve, effectively stopping the pain signal that was coming from the facet joint.”

Once performed, patients can expect pain relief for an average of one year. Should nerve endings repair themselves and result in recurrent pain, the radiofrequency neurotomy procedure can be performed again. The procedure is performed in an outpatient fluoroscopy suite and is typically completed in less than 
30 minutes. The procedure is performed with mild intravenous sedation, and it is generally well tolerated. Most patients feel able to resume their usual activities within a few days.

The Full Spectrum of Chronic Pain Care

At the Twin Cities Pain Clinic, procedures such as radiofrequency neurotomy function as a piece of a broad spectrum of pain care. For each patient, treatment begins with individual assessment and progresses through conservative options, including physical therapy and injection treatment. When less invasive care options have been exhausted, pain relief procedures and minor surgeries become a realistic option for relief. Employing this approach, physicians and staff members at the clinic can identify which treatment may work best for each patient and avoid unnecessary procedures.

“Our mission is to find the best solution for a patient’s pain,” explains Dr. Will. “Many patients come to us thinking there is nothing else that can be done for their pain. However, as we discuss their situations, we often find that they have not even heard about many of the pain therapies. We pride ourselves on being a resource for them to explore all the available options.”

For more information about the Twin Cities Pain Clinic, visit www.twincitiespainclinic.com.

MD News August 2011, Twin Cities


COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE