Return to University Health's Homepage.
Treating & Managing Pain

Treatment We Provide for Pain Management 

We create a pain management plan that works for you. Wherever your pain is coming from, we can help.

Our team of specialists are also available to administer anesthesia for general surgery at University Hospital. We help minimize acute pain for trauma patients, handle pre- and post-operation pain, and assist with care for cancer patients.

Our team also consults with palliative care clinicians at the hospital to assist with:

  • Cancer pain management
  • End-of-life symptom management

Non-invasive Pain Management Therapies

We will usually recommend non-invasive treatments first before trying invasive methods. Oftentimes, you will find that these non-invasive methods and lifestyle changes can help significantly reduce your pain.

  • Rehabilitation therapy. If you qualify, you may work with a physical therapist who can develop a rehabilitative exercise program that will help restore your range of motion and increase your mobility and strength.
  • Behavioral therapy. You may find that talking with a licensed psychologist or counselor can help you process your pain
  • Healthy diet and exercise. Fortunately, a majority of our patients experience some improvement in their condition and report lower pain levels after embracing a healthy diet and regular exercise. This can be particularly helpful to those who have symptoms of pain from various forms of arthritis.
  • Medication. In many cases, medication is part of the pain management treatment process, usually prescribed as a supplement to other ongoing treatment therapies.
    • Non-opioid medications are considered first with the exception of life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer. Opioids are not recommended for long-term use due to the possibility of addiction. Our physicians prescribe opioids only when medically necessary and under strict guidelines and oversight.

Before recommending a treatment plan, your pain management doctor will review details of your medical history. They will also conduct a thorough physical exam and may order imaging tests such as X-ray, ultrasound, MRI or CT scan.

We Use Advanced Pain Management Strategies When Needed

All non-invasive options are explored first, but we have a number of interventional pain management therapies that can be performed to restore you to the highest level of functionality possible.



Pain Management Treatments
Ablation therapy
If you have chronic lower back problems due to facet joint pain, we might recommend a lumbar radiofrequency ablation (RFA) procedure. In this procedure, the nerves on these joints, located at the back of the vertebra, are heated and deadened by an electrode at the end of a fine needle. When this is done, the destroyed nerves in your facet joints can no longer send pain signals to your brain.
Chronic pain management

Whether you have joint, back, nerve pain or another condition, like spasticity, we can develop an individualized treatment plan for you. We realize that chronic pain has many side effects that impact your overall quality of life. We take the time to get a complete picture of your health history by conducting detailed exams that often involve diagnostic tests.

Because multiple members of our pain medicine team work closely together, we’re able to efficiently determine which techniques will best improve your condition. In addition, we communicate with medical clinicians outside our department, including your primary care physician and rehabilitation therapists, to plan your treatment.

Nerve & Muscle Testing

If you have a painful nerve or muscle disorder that is troubling you, but no one seems to know how to find the source or how to treat it, we can help. Our pain medicine doctors use an advanced technique called electromyography to pinpoint the exact area of the body that is injured or inflamed.

A pain specialist attaches electrodes to the skin or inserts them into the muscle that hurts. By viewing the electrical activity in your muscle tissue, they can accurately pinpoint the nerves or muscles causing the pain. This can be helpful in making an accurate diagnosis.

You might experience pain in areas other than the part of the body that’s causing the pain. This is why getting an electromyography can be instrumental to finally finding the source of your chronic pain.

A pain medicine doctor can use this diagnostic procedure to detect nerve dysfunction, muscle dysfunction, or problems with nerve-to-muscle signal transmission.

Nerve blocks & injections

If you have chronic pain, nerve blocks or injections may give you improved mobility so you can get back to your normal activities.

Our doctors administer nerve blocks for spine, back, head, and neck pain. When needed, peripheral nerve blocks can act as an anesthesia for a targeted region of the body. We also assist patients with many types of injections like trigger point, epidural, hip, facet, bursa and Botox.

Some types of nerve blocks and injections are used to manage pain, while others are used to pinpoint the source of the pain. Nerve blocks might be an alternative treatment if you can’t have surgery.  

Nerve blocks and injections are used as part of an overall pain management strategy to reduce or stop muscle, nerve, joint and back pain. These techniques are tremendously helpful because they’re effective at interrupting pain signals along targeted nervous system pathways. Sedatives and local anesthesia are used to reduce your discomfort during these procedures.

Spinal cord implants or stimulation

Sometimes, non-invasive treatments just aren’t enough to relieve your pain.

When you have a long-term, painful condition, an intrathecal pump (pain pump) may be the solution. This device delivers pain-relieving medication to the problem area. Other implant devices may be an option, such as a spinal cord stimulator in which a device sends electrical signals to interrupt pain signals from reaching the brain.  

Neurostimulation therapy may be used. Electrodes disrupt pain signals at the source area. Neuromodulation may be part of your specialist’s pain management strategy. Neuromodulation can be used to either purposely activate nerves to kick-start them into a normal biological response, or it can deliver medicine in carefully selected doses to the injured area causing the pain.  

Treatment for spasticity

Our pain medicine specialists can help with the challenges of spasticity, which causes muscle stiffness. When the muscles stiffen, they often contract, and it’s harder to stretch your arms and legs. This affects your overall movement, speech, and the way you walk.

Spasticity may be caused by:

  • Brain and spinal injuries
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke

Your doctor might recommend one of the following:

  • Botox injections
  • Upper motor neuron treatment
  • Specialized MS symptom treatment
  • Spinal pumps