Q: Can I have a consultation without getting a referral?
A: Yes, if your insurance allows it. However, you must take responsibility for obtaining any previous records from physicians who have treated your condition. We must have these to design an effective treatment plan.
Q: How can I prevent back pain from returning?
A: For the best results, it’s very important to follow your provider’s full treatment plan. This includes any recommended exercise, weight reduction, or physical therapy. Physical therapy is intended to keep your muscles from becoming too stiff or, in some cases, atrophying (wasting away). Healthy, strong support muscles are vital to preventing and controlling spinal and hip pain.
Q: Will I ever need spine surgery?
A: More than 80% of patients who receive proper interventional pain management are able to avoid back surgery. However, in some cases, back surgery is necessary. Non-surgical procedures — even if they don’t succeed in controlling your pain — give your physician important information about the cause of your pain. Your physician now can collaborate with top surgeons in the area to ensure a better outcome following any needed surgery.
Q: Do I have to do a urine drug screen? Why?
A: Urine drug screens are routinely conducted in virtually every pain management office across the country. This is consistent with practice guidelines and standards of care that we all must follow, and it helps us make sure we’re giving you safe and appropriate care.
Q: What insurance companies are in-network for your office?
A: Please see our current list of in-network insurance providers.
Q: Do you have payment plans?
A: We can make arrangements with you on an individual basis. Please contact us to discuss.
Q: How can you relieve my back pain?
A: The physicians at Alliance utilize many advanced interventions — from epidural injections and facet blocks to spinal cord stimulators — to relieve your pain. Your physician will first work with you to diagnose the source of your pain, then decide on the treatment options best suited to your condition.
Q: What should I wear for my procedure?
A: If possible, please wear comfortable clothing, preferably pants and a shirt. (Dresses are sometimes complicated to navigate during procedures.)
Q: Can I eat before my procedure?
A: If you are having sedation or anesthesia for your procedure, you should not eat or drink (outside of taking your usual medications) after midnight the evening before your scheduled procedure. Please contact the office where you will have your procedure for full pre-procedure instructions.
Q: Will I need a driver?
A: Many procedures do not require that someone drive you home. If you will be sedated for your treatment then we will require you to have a driver, for your safety and for the safety of others on the road. Many patients who have a treatment to address back and leg pain, particularly on the right side, should have a driver.
Q: How long will my procedure appointment last?
A: Most procedures are completed in a matter of minutes, although the total time in the office will vary. You may need to wait while any premedication takes effect. And we will monitor you in the office anywhere from 5-30 minutes after treatment. From check-in to check-out, most appointments take approximately an hour and a half. If you are having a more advanced procedure, more time may be necessary.
Q: Will I experience pain during my procedure?
A: With sedation, you will often have minimal discomfort during your procedure. Patients often sleep through the procedure and are unaware that it has even occurred.
Q: What is radiofrequency ablation?
A: Radiofrequency ablation is a special technique that can prolong the duration of pain relief. If a particular nerve or set of nerves is treated, and you have very good quality but short-term relief, radiofrequency treatment can be the next step. This is recommended by your physician on an individual basis; not all patients are candidates. The procedure itself is routine for a pain specialist.
Q: What is a spinal cord stimulator?
A: This is the most sophisticated pain management technique offered at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers. If you have pain that cannot be treated with conventional techniques, you could be a candidate for a spinal cord stimulator (SCS). SCS uses micro-electrical impulses to “trick” your nerves into delivering a more comfortable sensation to replace your pain. In newer SCS models, the pain relief can even occur without a replacement sensation.
Q: Will I have an incision?
A: Only one advanced procedure we do (implanting a spinal cord stimulator) requires two small incisions. No other treatment at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers requires an incision, and injection sites can be covered with a simple Band-Aid.
Q: How long will relief last after my procedure?
A: One of the most important questions you’ll have! We want to prolong your relief as long as possible, but we generally don’t know how long it will last until we see how you respond to your initial treatment. After that, we will have a better idea how long subsequent treatments may last.
Q: Could my pain return?
A: Your pain may return. Several procedures — including radiofrequency ablations and epidurals — may need to be repeated, depending on your individual symptoms and the causes of your pain. However, most pain does not return after such procedures for at least six months. If your pain returns quickly after you have had a full series of treatments, a consultation with your neurosurgeon or orthopedic spine surgeon may be necessary. Call the office where you received treatment to schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss any recurring pain. The physician or physician’s assistant can discuss your future treatment plan from there.
Q: What should I do if I feel pain again?
A: Call the office where you received treatment. We want to know if you’re feeling pain again. Talk to your physician or physician’s assistant. Tell us what you’re feeling. We may need to repeat your procedures. Or, if the pain is coming from another source, we’ll get to work diagnosing the cause.
Q: How often do I need to be seen for follow up?
A: Office visits are individualized for each patient’s particular problems and needs. We would like to see you for a follow up 2-3 weeks following a procedure. If the benefit is long-lasting, the interval between visits can be quite long if you are doing well. Most patients receiving pain medication prescriptions are seen monthly.
Q: Will my procedure be repeated?
A: If you have good relief but there is still room for improvement, it is not uncommon to repeat a treatment anywhere from two weeks to two months later. You and your physician will make this decision together.