Chronic pain is most successfully managed addressing medical (medications and procedures), physical, psychological and social aspects concurrently to achieve maximum improvement. Medical procedures can be either diagnostic or therapeutic. Diagnostic procedures are usually used to localise the source of pain. For example medial branch blocks or facet joint injections are used to confirm pain is originating in a facet joint. Diagnostic procedures only provide short term benefit. Therapeutic procedures provide longer term benefit, although this can be quite variable. For example, a radiofrequency neurotomy (ablation) of a facet joint might provide benefit for over one year. Spinal cord stimulation might provide benefit for several years (until the battery requires replacement and the benefit then continues).
This section provides an overview of several common procedures. Although there is a long list of procedures performed for pain, the principles are the same. It is usually the anatomical site that is different. For most anatomical sites there are diagnostic and therapeutic procedures that involve similar techniques. These procedures are best explained to you by your pain specialist.