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Understanding a Pain Management Approach to Spine Care

Back and neck pain are incredibly common, but they can’t be lumped into one category. The spine is complex, and what causes pain can vary from person to person. 

Because of this, top spine centers like DISC Sports & Spine Center are starting to take a multidisciplinary approach. Combining the expertise of a variety of specialists can be very beneficial when it comes to diagnosing and treating different spine conditions. Pain management is one field that is an integral part of spine care. At DISC Sports & Spine Center, we take a team approach to managing pain to give our patients the best possible experience and outcomes. 

Pain Management as a Diagnostic Tool

The key to treating spine pain is locating the source of the pain, but doing so can be tricky. A doctor can take your medical history, do a physical exam, and perform imaging studies such as X-rays or an MRI to try and determine what’s causing the pain. These all provide excellent—and needed—information

But pain management specialists can take this method one step further. They can inject a specific area of the spine, such as a nerve root or particular joint, with a numbing medication. If this procedure provides significant pain relief, that’s a positive diagnostic result, and your doctor can feel confident that’s the area of injury.

Pain Management as a Conservative Treatment Option

When possible, DISC doctors always try to treat back or neck pain with non-surgical measures. When acute back pain doesn’t respond to first-line treatments, such as rest and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, we may consider other options. Sometimes, a short course of stronger, prescription pain medication or muscle relaxants can help. Other times, a steroid injection into the affected area may relieve inflammation and deliver longer-lasting pain control.

Once we properly manage your pain, we can start to incorporate exercise programs, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications to keep you feeling comfortable and hopefully avoid surgery down the line.

What if you’ve had long-lasting, chronic spine pain? We’ll do our own diagnostic workup to see if we can elucidate the cause of your pain and look at what treatments you’ve had in the past. Often, we can find the right diagnosis and deliver a specific, targeted treatment that you haven’t tried before.

Pain Management to Find the Best Surgical Solution

In 60-80 percent of cases, back and neck pain will resolve without surgery. But for those who require surgical intervention, the diagnostic aspects of pain management may also help guide surgical decisions. If we can accurately pinpoint the source of pain, we may be able to find a smaller, less invasive procedure to correct it. Because minimally invasive spine surgery tends to have fewer complications, shorter hospitalizations, and a quicker recovery than traditional surgery, it’s a desirable choice when appropriate.

Pain Management After Surgery

No two patients are the same. Pain management specialists can work in conjunction with your surgeon to develop an individualized post-operative plan to keep your pain under control. Instead of trying to lessen your pain once it develops after surgery, we aim to prevent you from feeling uncomfortable in the first place.

At DISC Sports & Spine Center, we take this team approach to give our patients the best possible experience and outcomes. Click here to watch a video that explains how we live out this philosophy in our practice.


DISC Pain management specialists

Dr. Michael Port, MD

About the author

Dr. Michael Port, MD Dr. Michael Port, a double-board certified pain management specialist with extensive trauma experience, serves as medical director for DISC Sports & Spine Center, a role he has held since helping to launch the center alongside founder Robert S. Bray, Jr. In his more than 15 years of practice, Dr. Port has treated thousands of world-class athletes, weekend warriors and everyday people. His personalized, highly detailed approach to pain targets very specific nerve roots, establishing a more concise diagnosis and avoiding unnecessary medication. Satisfying a career-long goal of alleviating pain and suffering, Dr. Port’s techniques allow patients to return to their fullest state of health and function. He finds his greatest reward in seeing quality of life restored as a result of his work within DISC’s collaborative, multi-disciplinary environment. Read more articles by Dr. Michael Port, MD.

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