Pain Clinic Offers One Stop Shop for Pain
Many people suffer for years with chronic pain because they haven't received the right treatment or they've been led to believe it is not treatable.
These patients often end up on opioids – a narcotic that is effective at providing short-term pain relief, but has not been shown to relieve non-malignant pain on a long-term basis or to help patients become functional again, says Madhuri Are, MD, a pain specialist at Pain Clinic at Nebraska Medicine.
The Pain Clinic is one of the most comprehensive clinics in the country with a group of highly skilled doctors who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to treating pain. The pain team uses a comprehensive approach to pain management that attacks pain from many fronts and uses some of the most cutting edge medical and surgical techniques and therapies.
Providing pain relief to patients through minimally invasive and invasive procedures is an area of specialization provided by Dr. Are, board certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and in pain medicine. She practiced pain medicine for six years at MDAnderson before coming to the Nebraska Medicine. Dr. Are says she was attracted to Nebraska Medicine because of the depth of its pain program.
"There's not a single pain patient that one of us doesn't have the expertise to treat and manage," says Dr. Are. "We offer everything from minimally invasive to more invasive procedures."
Dr. Are specializes in several procedures that can provide longer lasting pain control to cancer patients as well as non-cancer patients. These procedures include the implantation of an intrathecal pump. The intrathecal pump delivers opioids directly into the spinal canal from a surgically-implanted pump and has been particularly useful for oncology patients to help relieve severe, intractable pain.
Dr. Are also performs nerve blocks, an injection of local anesthesia that is injected near a peripheral nerve to help diagnose and treat painful areas of the extremities; trigger point injections, where local anesthetic is injected to relieve muscle pain or spasms; intercostal blocks, an injection in the rib cage typically to relieve pain for lung cancer and post-mastectomy patients; or radiofrequency ablation, a procedure that burns and destroys the nerves and is commonly used for patients with abdominal tumors or pancreatic cancer.
Kyphoplasty, another procedure performed by Dr. Are, can provide relief to patients with painful compression fractures due to osteoporosis or cancer. The procedure restores bone height in the vertebra and improves pain control. "These procedures will prevent these patients from having to take high doses of narcotics or opioids," says Dr. Are. "In some cases, it may allow a cancer patient to continue treatment who otherwise may have given up due to pain or side effects. Or it may provide a higher quality of life to a cancer patient during their last weeks or months of life."
The procedures for pain also offer the advantage of relieving the patient of the need to use pain pills, provides the patient some control over regulating the amount of pain medication taken, and highly reduces nausea, constipation and sleepiness. "These pain procedures are much more potent, but with significantly fewer side effects," says Dr. Are.
"We can see the patient, perform the pain procedure and follow up with them," says Dr. Are. "There's no need for them to go anywhere else. And we stay in close contact with the primary care doctor and keep them updated on their patients. You could call us a one-stop shop for pain. When a patient comes here, they will have access to every aspect of pain management available, and they will receive it in a timely and compassionate manner."