The perception of pain is a very complex process, but in the simplest cases pain occurs when free nerve endings are activated by tissue damage or inflammation, which then transmits an electrical signal to the brain where it is registered as pain. In most cases, the pain ceases once healing occurs. However, sometimes pain can also be caused by injuries that don’t heal with time — for instance, an injury to a joint which causes persistent pressure on a nerve, or damage to the nervous system itself.
As there are many types of pain, there are many ways to treat it. Ideally the cause of the pain is treated, but when the cause is not immediately treatable a pain management team may use a number of other methods.
- Physical methods, such as physical therapy and massage, can be used to strengthen the body and reduce pressure on nerves in affected areas.
- Interventional procedures are used to disrupt or alter the transmission of pain in the body; common methods include nerve blocks, facet joint injections and nerve stimulation.
- Psychological methods involve teaching coping techniques that allow a person with persistent pain to process and reduce the effects of pain.
- Medications range from over-the-counter non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as acetaminophen to extremely powerful opiate painkillers; due to the possibility of addiction and potential side effects, medication must be carefully managed by the team.
Pain Management at Sibley
At Sibley, we provide a comprehensive set of approaches to improving your quality of life. Care begins with a comprehensive evaluation of each patient to determine the best treatment possible, which may include referrals to other specialists. The end result is an individualized plan for your particular situation, and connections to the right provider, whether they specialize in neurosurgery, orthopaedic surgery, neurology, physical therapy, occupational therapy or psychological services.
The Sibley Pain Center treats the following conditions and disorders:
- Degenerative disc disease — cervical, thoracic and lumbar
- Radiculopathy — cervical, thoracic and lumbar
- Whiplash-associated disorders
- Cervical and lumbar strain
- Facet disease — cervical, thoracic and lumbar
- Sacroiliac joint pain
Nerve-related pain (neuropathic pain)
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy)
- Peripheral or diabetic neuropathy
- Phantom limb pain/post-amputation pain
- HIV-related pain
- Peripheral nerve injury
- Central pain syndromes (post-stroke pain, post-spinal cord injury pain)
- Post-herpetic neuralgia and herpes zoster
- Headaches (occipital neuralgia, migraines, tension headache, cluster headache)
- Facial pain — TMJ, neuromas (trauma), atypical facial pain
- Musculoskeletal pain
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Chest wall pain
- Piriformis Syndrome
- Arthritis and joint pain
- Intrathecal pumps (implanted and controlled by the patient)