Frequently Asked Questions
The Pain Center is comprised of board-certified healthcare professionals with specialized training in the diagnosis, treatment and management of pain. At the Pain Center, we offer a multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of pain. Our doctors from different fields of medicine and backgrounds work as a team in providing care to the individual patient. We work in partnership with your referring doctor to ensure continuity of care. Our goal is to help ease your pain so that you can live a fuller, more productive life.
The most important advantages are:
- Patients receive treatment from a renowned staff of doctors, dentists and psychologists whose efforts are devoted exclusively to diagnosing and treating pain.
- Patients at Cedars-Sinai have access to state-of-the-art equipment for diagnosing the origin and causes of their pain.
- Ongoing research studies conducted at Cedars-Sinai ensure that the newest techniques and procedures are available to the patients of the Pain Center.
- The staff of doctors, dentists and psychologists collaborate with the broad community of specialists at Cedars-Sinai to ensure the highest caliber of care.
The Pain Center at Cedars-Sinai offers a full range of treatments using a multi-disciplinary approach. For a complete list of conditions treated at the Pain Center, please see our Conditions & Treatments page.
The Pain Center uses the following therapies to ease head and neck pain:
- Behavioral therapy (psychiatry and psychology)
- Nerve blocks (injection to deaden nerves)
- Pharmacotherapy (medications)
- Physical therapy
In treating pain, doctors regard the patient as a valuable member of the medical team. Without the patient's full and focused cooperation throughout the entire process of diagnosis and treatment, there is little chance of success.
In recent years, there have been major advances in migraine therapy due to better understanding of how these headaches work, as well as the availability of new drug treatments. The choice of drugs used to treat migraines depends on many factors. Other non-medication techniques have also been found to be helpful, including ice, biofeedback, relaxation techniques and acupuncture. Doctors may also conduct behavioral assessments to measure the patient's ability to cope with anxiety and distress. Pain specialists also encourage the patient to lead a healthy lifestyle with good nutrition, adequate fluids, sufficient sleep and exercise since these have a positive effect on the relief of pain.
In some cases, alternative medicine treatments are suggested to help the patient exercise a measure of control over the pain. They include the use of herbs, acupuncture, acupressure and chiropractic sessions.
Before your procedure, inform your pain management doctor and anesthesiologist about your sensitivity to anesthesia and tendency to feel sick afterward. Different medications can be selected for your procedure to help reduce or eliminate post-procedure nausea or other possible side effects.
A significant component in treating chronic, acute and cancer-related pain is behavior related. Medical services and techniques in this field of medicine can empower patients and families by teaching them skills to reduce and manage pain, minimize the use of drugs and help control unwanted side effects from various procedures. Techniques include:
- Biofeedback and applied psychophysiology
- Behavioral and cognitive pain management
- Behavioral medicine evaluations
- Individual physician consultations
- Presurgical evaluations
- Pharmacotherapy consultations
- Surgery preparation programs
Hands-on manipulation by a chiropractor to readjust or realign a joint or to apply massage techniques has been used successfully in some cases to alleviate pain, especially in the lower back and neck. Chiropractic therapy has also been found to be helpful in easing headache pain.
The Pain Center’s doctors, dentists, psychologists and staff work in partnership with referring doctors to provide care for patients with pain. Employing the latest advances in pain medicine, the center’s experienced, knowledgeable pain specialists work with patients to develop individualized treatment plans that address the patient’s specific needs.
The Pain Center’s pain specialists and staff strive not only to relieve pain, but also to help patients take better control of their lives. Patients can learn techniques for reducing pain, reducing medications and improving quality of life. Our primary goal is to reduce or eliminate pain so that patients with chronic conditions may lead more active and fulfilling lives.
There are noninterventional and interventional methods to alleviate pain. The Pain Center offers both methods to patients depending on the patient’s diagnosis and needs.
Noninterventional treatments include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Stress Management
- Diet and Exercise
- Medical Devices
- Pharmacotherapy (medications)
- Physical Therapy
Alternative/complementary noninterventional treatments include:
- Chiropractic Care
- Diet and Exercise
- Supplements and Nutraceuticals
A nerve block is an interventional pain management technique targeting specific nerves guided by X-rays, CT scan or ultrasound that uses an anesthetic or anti-inflammatory medicine to turn off, stop or reduce pain signals.
Guided by feel, X-rays, CT scan or ultrasound, interventional injections of an anesthetic or anti-inflammatory medicine can be used to turn off, stop or reduce pain signals for:
- Back pain
- Headaches and migraines
- Joint pain
- Muscle spasms
- Tendons and bursa
- Tight bands of muscle
Sometimes injections are done for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes and to aid surgical colleagues when planning surgery.
Interventional injections include:
- Atlanto-axial joint injection
- Botox injections
- Cryoablation of peripheral sensory nerves
- Epidural injections (cervical, thoracic, lumbar and caudal)
- Epidural blood patch
- Facet joint injections and medial branch blocks (cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral)
- Gasserian ganglion injections for trigeminal neuralgia
- Injections for bursitis
- Injections for tennis and golfer’s elbow
- Intrathecal and epidural infusion systems
- Joint injections
- Ketamine infusions
- Neurolysis of the celiac plexus
- Occipital and supraorbital nerve injections and cryoablation
- Peripheral nerve blocks under fluoroscopy or ultrasound
- PRP (platelet-rich plasma) joint and tendon injections
- Radiofrequency denervation of peripheral sensory nerves
- Sacroiliac joint injections and ablation
- Selective epidural and nerve root blocks (cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral)Spinal cord stimulation
- Sphenopalatine ganglion injections
- Sympathetic nerve blocks (stellate ganglion, thoracic, splanchnic, lumbar, hypogastric and ganglion impar)
- TMJ injections
- Trigger-point injections
- Vertiflex procedure for lumbar spinal stenosis
Regenerative medicine procedures done at the Pain Center are platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections of joints, ligaments and tendons. This innovative treatment is to stimulate the patient’s natural healing response and to accelerate recovery and relieve pain more quickly.
Due to many problems with sterility and infection, stem cell treatment is currently not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. except for use in bone marrow transplantation, or if the procedure is being done for research purposes only. Stem cells harvested from a patient’s own fat or blood are not approved for injection.
The Pain Center offers a full range of services, including evaluation, diagnosis, noninterventional and interventional treatment, doctor-directed rehabilitation and psychological services directed toward resolving and controlling pain and improving function. We provide patient-centered care to help patients:
- Improve and restore quality of life.
- Improve sleep.
- Improve overall wellness.
- Increase activities at home and work.
- Learn new skills for coping with pain.
- Overcome isolation.
- Provide nonopioid pain care.
- Reduce the amount of time pain is experienced and its severity.
- Rehabilitate to regain strength and endurance.
The Pain Center at Cedars-Sinai is here to help you with your pain. Our aim is to deliver unsurpassed, patient-focused, compassionate pain medicine care. We understand that pain is an individualized experience, and we strive to tailor treatment plans that work for each patient’s unique situation. Thank you for entrusting us with your care.