The Opioid Epidemic has plagued the United States since the 1990’s when there was a surge of over-prescription of opioids. This crisis has gotten only worse with the combination of synthetic opioids. Despite these tragedies, pain management is still important for many individuals with wide-spread conditions and must be addressed in one way or another.
This is where pain management specialists save the day. Their treatment is aimed at primary prevention, and they implement measures to forestall the onset of chronic pain or minimize the progression of current pain.
We discussed this role with Dr. Russell one of the credentialed pain specialists at Madison Memorial Hospital:
What conditions are best managed through your clinic?
Dr. Russell: Many of the common conditions we see on a regular basis are associated with chronic pain symptoms. The most common is back pain followed by neck pain with a spectrum all the way down to foot pain. Whether the pain is acute or chronic we have ways to help. There are many options there that we are familiar with and can help people improve their lifestyle and function.
What methods do you use for these diseases?
Dr. Russell: We use interventions as our primary modality to avoid addictive medications that are plaguing our society currently. We can help by intervening with different procedures, devices, or medications. In interventional procedures we look at the source of the pain. If it is neural pain that is more often consistent with epidural injections or spinal stimulation. If it deals with structure there can be injections given within the joints. These interventions not only treat chronic pain but can also prevent chronic pain. In the paradigm of treating pain if we shift these interventions to an earlier treatment phase, we can prevent chronic pain.
Does an individual need to be referred to a pain management doctor in order to receive coverage through insurance?
Dr. Russell: They may get a referral from a doctor but that is not always necessary it is dependent on the particular insurance that the patient holds. We try to make the process as streamlined as possible. We create positions so that we can serve our patients rather rapidly. We like to see patients within 2 weeks of when they want to be seen.
Have you seen your methods help individuals to become less opioid dependent?
Dr. Russell: A lot of our therapies are goal directed for 3 basic tenants. The first is to have a more functional, active life. The second is decreasing their pain. The third is being able to decrease the dependence for any controlled substance. Often, we are able to do that. The field of pain management and the ongoing opioid epidemic has been very dynamic. Every year new treatments and interventions are being developed; primarily because they are working. Where the pain world is headed, interventions will be placed before medications on the step-ladder of treatments.
The interview continues with a local Rexburg physician, Dr. Watson.
What process do you go through to refer patients to a pain management specialist?
Dr. Watson: At the clinic we’ve made it simple in referring patients to pain management specialists. If they are on chronic pain medication for longer than 6 weeks, we send a referral to the pain specialist doctors so they can help them in their treatment.
Thankfully with pain management specialists like Dr. Russell we can treat chronic and acute pain in a safe manner that will improve individual’s quality of life. We can also expedite this process with referral from the Rexburg Medical Clinic. Contact Madison Memorial Hospital or Pain and Spine Specialists of Idaho if you or a loved one could benefit from these procedures.