Pain management doctors – physicians who specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of pain – have advanced training that qualifies them as your best source of treatment if you are experiencing any type of pain due to illness or injury.

After a general residency, these physicians undergo an additional one-year fellowship in pain management, and they are board-certified in a specialty, such as sport injuries or cancer pain.

However, most pain management doctors devote their time and expertise to helping chronic pain patients whose needs can sometimes be hard to diagnose and take months or years to treat using multiple therapies.

Pain management doctors most often see patients with pain in the low back, knee, head, hip, and neck. Common conditions treated is these physicians include: arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, sciatica, and more.

But what do pain management doctors actually do?

For one thing, they diagnose the specific cause of your pain and the underlying conditions that lead to it. Take back pain, for example. It could be caused by many conditions ranging from poor posture at your work desk to a herniated disc to a degenerative condition like arthritis.

Once a pain management doctor diagnoses your pain, he or she can find the therapy that works best for you based on their specialized training and the latest research. In fact, pain management doctors often conduct their own trials and studies on patients who haven’t responded to conventional treatments.

Pain doctors often use a wide range of nonsurgical, interventional treatments – along with complementary therapies – as a way of reducing the amount of medication you need to take or to avoid the need for surgery. These may include massage, a weight loss regimen, acupuncture, exercise, yoga, meditation, physical therapy, dietary changes, or chiropractic care.

They may also prescribe pain-killing medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, or antidepressants. Depending on the severity of your specific condition, they may also recommend epidural steroid injections, nerve blocks, joint injections, radiofrequency ablation, spinal cord stimulation, or neuromodulation. If none of these methods are effective in alleviating your pain, surgery may be an option of last resort.

In any case, your pain management doctor will coordinate treatment between multiple doctors and healthcare professionals. In addition, he or she will continue ongoing care for any physical or mental concerns you may have. In that role, your pain management doctor acts as an advocate dedicated to relieving your symptoms.

To learn more about how a pain management doctor can help you overcome your pain issues, talk to the experts at Pain Specialists of Austin and Central Texas Pain Center. We help patients like you every day. Get the discussion started by calling (855) 876-7246 for an appointment today or request an appointment online.

Your back takes a lot of impacts and is an essential part of your daily life. In between each vertebra are your discs, which are there to help ease any impacts. They provide height, allow bending, flexion, and twisting. Think of them as the spines' shock absorbers.

As we age, our discs begin to shrink, causing more wear and tear. In some cases, this can be more severe and lead to back pain and stiffness, often caused by other underlying issues. If you are currently living with back pain from degenerative disc disease, here’s what you should know:

Common Causes

Everyone will experience some level of degeneration over time. As you age, your discs will begin to dry out, losing their ability to absorb shock. Daily movement and physical activities such as sports, can lead to tears in the outer core. An injury can lead to instability, swelling, and soreness.

Common Complications

As the condition develops, certain complications can come along, such as:

Also, your disc center can weaken, the nucleus of your disc collapses, and bone spurs can form. Early treatment is vital to reduce further damage.

Knowing the Symptoms

Your symptoms all depend on where the degenerated disc(s) are located. For some, it can be in the lower back, others the neck. Lower back pain can travel from the lower back to the buttocks and thighs. Neck pain can travel and radiate to your arms and hands. For others, it can worsen when you sit or do specific activities.

Pain may come and go; it may be nagging or severe. All of these depend on the damage that has occurred and the location of the degeneration.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The first step in diagnosing degenerative disc disease is to have a physical exam and a full review of your medical history. You will be asked to describe your pain and when it began to occur. An MRI might be scheduled to see the damage of the discs.

With proper treatment, the source of the pain can often repair itself. Treatment might include anti-inflammatory drugs, chiropractic care, and therapy. For some instances, traction or injections may be prescribed. If all non-invasive measures have been exhausted without any improvement, surgery may be necessary.

Degenerative disc disease, though natural, can often be a significant source of chronic pain. We are dedicated to helping you reduce your pain, and get back your quality of life. Call us today at (855) 876-7246 to make an appointment to discuss treatment options. You can also fill out our convenient appointment request form.

Living with chronic pain does not mean you have to spend the summers indoors. With proper preparation and knowledge, you may be able to live an active summer life without the extra aches. To get out there and stay active, all while keeping pain management in mind, here’s what you’ll want to know.

Keep an Eye on When the Temperatures Rise

Extreme heat is uncomfortable for most, but nerve or joint pain can make it unbearable. Pay mind to the daily temperature and plan activities early in the day or later in the evening, when temperatures are in the lower end. This can help excess sweating, which can lead to dehydration and joint pain.

When you do venture outside, wear breathable clothing and a big hat and glasses. You don’t want to add a sunburn to your list of pain.

Schedule Pool Days

Some time in the pool can be a great way to reduce pain and inflammation for most, while still enjoying the summer sun. You don’t have to be an avid swimmer to reap the benefits either, a simple soak or a few stretches can help cool you down.

Try doing a few of your regular stretches or workout moves in the water. The buoyancy will help relieve pressure to the joints, giving you the ability for a better workout without the extra pain. Talk to your physician about how you may benefit from water therapy.

Keep Your Diet in Mind

No matter what time of year it may be, you should always strive to get your daily dose of vitamins through a balanced diet. However, with farmers markets and many fruits and vegetables being fresher than ever, it’s simpler in the summer months.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated, too. Dehydration can lead to inflammation and reduce blood flow to the joints, leading to more wear and tear. If you are already thirsty, chances are you’re slightly dehydrated, so drink up.

Don’t Skip Your Treatment

The more you stay on track with your treatment, the more energy and strength you’ll have to enjoy your favorite summer activities. Talk to your doctor about any new pain you are feeling, and changes so you can both ensure you’re receiving the best treatment for you.

Don’t let pain take away your quality of life. We can provide treatment for a wide variety of pain causes and treatment. Our state-of-the-art diagnostic procedures will help us find the cause of your pain, so we can then develop the most effective treatment plan for you.

As we age, our bodies begin to feel the effects of years of wear and tear – as well as pure age-related degeneration. A perfect example is what happens if or when the spinal canal narrows. This puts pressure on the nerves that it is designed to protect. This narrowing of the spinal canal is what is known as spinal stenosis. The condition causes pain, numbness, and muscle weakness either in your neck (cervical stenosis) or lower back (lumbar stenosis). It can also cause difficulty when walking and maintaining your balance.

Not only that, but in severe cases, spinal stenosis can also impair your bladder and bowel control. If your spinal stenosis is in the lower back – the most common kind of stenosis – you may experience pain and cramping in one or both of your legs when you stand for long periods of time.

Causes of Spinal Stenosis

There are numerous causes of spinal stenosis, such as:

What Are the Treatments for the Condition?

Fortunately, there’s a variety of treatment options for those diagnosed with spinal stenosis. These include both nonsurgical and surgical alternatives; treatment is based on the cause and severity of your condition, as well as your medical history.

Classic film star Bette Davis once said, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” Boy, was she right.

As we age, our bodies change and, if we’re lucky, we only develop minor aches and pains. But if you’re not that fortunate, you can develop more painful physical problems, one being lumbar stenosis.

Lumbar stenosis occurs when the vertebrae (bones), muscles and ligaments that make up the spinal column start to degenerate and the nerves in the lower back become compressed by a bulging disc, a herniated disc, a bone spur or other protrusion.

This condition often leads to symptoms such as sciatica (leg pain); claudication (leg pain with walking); or a tingling sensation, weakness or numbness that radiates from the lower back into the buttocks and legs. As these symptoms worsen, they may become debilitating.

The good news, however, is that there are multiple non-surgical and surgical options to treat lumbar stenosis. These include:

Non-invasive, non-surgical

Medication – As recommended by your doctor, anti-inflammatory medications such pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), naproxen (Aleve), and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can temporarily ease the discomfort of spinal stenosis. On a longer-term basis, antidepressants, such as amitriptyline and anti-seizure drugs like Neurontin and Lyrica, can help reduce pain caused by damaged nerves.

Physical therapy – It’s a vicious cycle:  there is a tendency among spinal stenosis sufferers to become less active to reduce their pain but that can lead to muscle weakness and even more pain. Instead, a physical therapist can introduce you to exercises aimed at enhancing the flexibility and stability of your spine, building strength and endurance, and improving your balance.

Steroid injections – Pinched nerve roots can become irritated and swollen in specific spots. Although injecting corticosteroids into that affected area won’t resolve the stenosis, it can help reduce the pain and inflammation. A word of caution, however; reliance on or receiving repeated steroid injections is known to weaken nearby bones and connective tissue. Steroid injections should not be your “go to” cure to treat lumbar stenosis.

Integrative medicine and alternative therapies – such as massage therapy, chiropractic treatment, and acupuncture – may also be used along with conventional treatments to help you manage your spinal stenosis pain.

Minimally Invasive Treatment

If these conservative measures fail to relieve your lumbar stenosis, there are minimally invasive procedures for you and your doctor to consider, one of which is a decompression procedure in which portions of the affected ligament in the back of your spinal column are removed. This increases spinal canal space and eliminates nerve root impingement.

Invasive, Surgical Procedures

If other treatments are ineffective or if you’re disabled due to your symptom, you may want to consider surgery. In fact, surgery is often the most effective way to resolve spinal stenosis symptoms. Examples of spinal stenosis surgical procedures include:

Laminectomy, which involves the removal of the back part (lamina) of the affected vertebra to ease pressure on the nerves. To maintain the spine’s strength, the vertebra may need to be linked to adjoining vertebrae using metal hardware and a bone graft.

Laminotomy, a procedure in which only a portion of the lamina is removed.

Laminoplasty. Performed on the vertebrae in the neck a laminoplasty opens up open spaces within the spinal canal to allow for placement around the spine of metal hardware to relieve pressure and pain.

Don’t let back pain slow you down. If you’re interested in or have questions about any of these treatment options, discuss them with your doctor. The doctors at Pain Specialists of Austin are dedicated to providing the pain solutions that are crucial to getting you back on your feet and doing the activities you love. To learn more about lumbar stenosis treatment options, and our pain management methods, call (855) 876-7246 for an appointment today. We have 10 convenient locations in and around Austin, Texas. You can also request an appointment online.

This is an open letter to those suffering from pain.

Long-term, persistent pain is nothing like the pain of an acute injury or even a really bad case of the flu. In those cases, you may feel bad – really bad – for days or weeks, but the pain gradually lessens, letting you know that you’re on the mend. Chronic pain, on the other hand, is unpredictable and unrelenting. It can occur every day, or it may appear on random days. But there is never any indication you are getting better. With pain like this, you may feel fine one day, then can barely move the next. You will find your life – and plans – in constant flux, never being able to predict when or how the pain will strike.

Living with chronic pain is tough but finding relief for it is even more so. Getting an accurate diagnosis for what ails you and finding a treatment that works typically involves a lot of trial and error. That’s where interventional pain management comes in, utilizing mostly minimally invasive techniques to lessen a patient’s pain.

Pain Management Injections

Pain management injections are safe, effective, and can provide longer-term solutions than, say, oral medications – and are a less invasive option than surgery, to boot. They are used to treat a wide variety of orthopedic or neurological conditions and injuries.

One of the most common pain management injections is called an epidural steroid injection. This injection is common for lower back pain but may also help with upper back and neck pain. When injected, steroidal medication is injected into the epidural space around the spinal cord. The medication reduces inflammation and pain.

Nerve blocks are another common pain management injection. These injections deliver an anesthetic close to particular nerves, in an effort to interrupt nerve signals before they can get to the brain, where they would register as pain. These injections are used to treat pain caused by inflamed nerves and can be used to help identify the source of your pain.

Joint injections deliver medication into the joints for quick relief of pain and inflammation. Trigger point injections can help relax knots of muscles that may be causing pain in other parts of the body (for example, a trigger point in the neck is a common cause of tension headaches).

At Pain Specialists of Austin our interventional pain management doctors are here with one goal: to relieve chronic pain and help our patients return to being their former active selves. Instead of relying on medication, we intervene in a much more effective manner using a vast array of therapies such as pain management injections, to help relieve pain. We aim to improve one’s quality of life and help to regain function and mobility.

To learn more about interventional pain management, and how pain management injections may help you, call the Pain Specialists of Austin at (855) 876-7246 to request an appointment, or request an appointment online.

Getting a cancer diagnosis is a shock, to say the least. The C-word is a word no one wants or expects to hear, but it is an unfortunate reality to far too many people. Cancer can also be a genetic disease, meaning some are born genetically predisposed to developing certain types of cancer. People with hereditary mutations have a higher risk of developing the disease more than the average person. Early diagnosis and an increasing amount of treatment options give people more hope for battling cancer, but there can still be a great deal of pain that needs to be managed along the way.

Dealing with a cancer diagnosis, whether metastatic or curable, is devastating and can be hard to cope with no matter what the stage is. One often feels anxious about how to proceed, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and your healthcare team is there to help see you through the tough times.

There is more to cancer care and treatment than simply helping patients survive. Cancer, like any other chronic disease, can cause serious pain that affects one’s quality of life in conjunctions with the disease itself. Pain is an important indicator that something is wrong, and therefore, ignoring it is a bad decision. Early detection of any disease, but especially cancer, is imperative and can save your life or the life of a loved one.

People with cancer often think there is no hope, and that their pain cannot be managed the way other conditions might. In fact, there are pain management techniques specifically catered to those suffering from cancer pain, or the pain associated with certain cancer treatments. If a proper care plan is put into place, it can improve one’s quality of life significantly, and may ultimately save lives. Cancer patients should not hesitate to get the treatment that they need.

At Pain Specialists of Austin, when other methods of treatment fail to provide sufficient, long-lasting relief from cancer pain, it’s time to consult a doctor who specializes in pain management. Our interventional pain management specialists can perform a variety of interventional and minimally invasive procedures, such as injections to help with cancer pain.

We believe the best way to manage your cancer pain will depend on the type of pain you are experiencing, and to what degree. At Pain Specialists of Austin, we mainly use special nerve blocks to keep the pain signal from reaching your brain and inject the area in need of pain relief. Our methods of pain relief are unlike regular methods such as over-the-counter anti-inflammatories because the interventional methods that we utilize. Pain medication injections directly target the source of your pain, resulting in more long-term pain relief.

You might feel that because you have cancer, pain should be an expected side effect that you just need to suffer through. No one should have to live with pain that interrupts their life, especially so when faced with the uncertain and often frightening possibilities that come with cancer treatment. We can help. Call (855) 876-7246 to request an appointment with one of our pain specialists, or request an appointment online.

Nature and nurture both play a role in the occurrence of many different diseases and conditions. One condition that is often affected by our environment and genetics is called carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). Carpal tunnel syndrome is a disorder that causes persistent tingling, pain, weakness, and loss of proprioception (spatial reasoning) in the hand and wrist. According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, CTS is actually a group of symptoms that result from the compression of the median nerve of the wrist – which runs from the forearm all the way to the palm of the hand. When it becomes compacted or compressed, it can cause injury and impairment.

Some people are genetically prone to be more susceptible to CTS, so understanding the anatomy can help. The carpal tunnel is a (very) slender passageway running through the palm side of our wrists, and the median nerve – which is responsible for sensation and hand movement – runs through it.  However, in some cases the synovium (the tissue that surrounds it) swells up, rather than lubricate the tendons as they should. Unfortunately, some people are built with narrower carpal tunnels to begin with, and increased pressure or overuse only exacerbates the problem.

Gender plays a large role in the possibility for developing carpal tunnel syndrome – with women having three times more risk than men. For one, a woman’s wrist is typically more petite than a man’s, meaning that nerves must pass through tighter spaces for adequate functioning. Hormonal changes – due to pregnancy, Menopause, or lymphedema (the build-up of fluids that occurs after mastectomy) – can all cause fluid retention and pain in the wrist.

There are also many underlying medical conditions which are associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Hypothyroidism, lupus, obesity, and rheumatoid arthritis all make a person more prone to developing the condition. In some cases, CTS is a precursor or signal that other diseases will follow. A study published in Diabetes Care, found that people who had been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome were 36% more likely to be diagnosed as diabetic down the road – regardless of other Diabetes risk factors.

Many times, choice of one’s daily activities or profession can place them at greater risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Those in occupations that require repetitive wrist movements – such as assembly line workers, manufacturing associates, secretaries (or those who type frequently), and construction workers, should take precautions to prevent CTS. Taking breaks, paying attention to proper hand posture, wearing a brace, and making ergonomic adjustments to your workplace, are all helpful lifestyle changes to incorporate. A physical therapist may be able to recommend exercises that target the hands and wrists, and reduce the pressure placed on them.

There’s a light at the end of the (Carpal) tunnel. If you sufficiently treat your condition early by making small adjustments, you may be able to eradicate your symptoms altogether. Don’t wait until it’s too late; seek help from a well-respected physician. Pain Specialists of Austin lives up to their motto “Help is on the way” – offering a host of reliable techniques for relieving carpal tunnel discomfort. For more information, call their office at (855) 876-7246.


Meniscal tears are a common knee injury involving the meniscus, a disc of cartilage that cushions the knee joint. It occurs most commonly in athletes due to a sudden twisting of the knee, but can happen to anyone, even when doing regular tasks like standing up or walking up steps – especially older adults because the meniscus weakens as we age. There are two menisci in each knee.

When the meniscus is torn, or if a piece breaks off and catches in the knee joint, it can cause a variety of symptoms, including pain, swelling, stiffness, and locking up of the knee. Its telltale sign is a popping noise when the injury occurs.

Depending on the type and location of your tear, and if your symptoms are not severe, you may be able to treat the condition primarily with pain management techniques. This is because tears that occur on the outside of the meniscus (known as the “red” zone because blood reaches this area) may heal on their own without resorting to invasive measures such as surgery – depending on the size and severity of the tear, of course. And if the tear is confined to just one of your knee’s menisci, all the better.

However, if you are experiencing significant pain or a locking up of the knee joint, you will want to visit your doctor to explore your treatment options. Tears that occur in the inner two-thirds of the meniscus (known as the “white” zone because it lacks a blood supply) do not self-heal. Significant tears in this area are usually treated with an arthroscopic surgery.

Treating the Pain of a Meniscus Tear

We help our patients decide which treatment options are best for them. Often, a customized treatment plan will take into account a patient’s age, overall health, activity level, as well as the location and severity of the meniscus tear.

Pain management options for a meniscus tear include:

The doctors are dedicated to providing the meniscus tear treatments that are so crucial to getting you back on your feet and doing the activities you love. To learn more about meniscal tears, treatment, and our pain management methods, call (855) 876-7246 for an appointment today. We have 10 convenient locations in and around Austin, Texas. You can also request an appointment online.

How Stem Cell Can Help Spine Degeneration In Spine.

The back pain resulting from spinal degeneration can get so bad that even simple movements become major ordeals. Participating in family outings can be a chore, even bending to tie your shoes may be off-limits. When you start changing your day to day life to adapt to debilitating back pain, it’s time to seek treatment.

Traditional treatments focus on reducing painful symptoms, but many patients are looking to stem cell treatment to not just stop further degeneration, but also to restore healthy tissue (cartilage) in your spinal discs. Stem cell research continues to validate the use of stem cells for treating a variety of health issues, and musculoskeletal problems are one of the main areas of focus.

The use of regenerative medicine (either platelet-rich plasma or stem cell treatment) for treating painful musculoskeletal conditions continues to gain traction. Ongoing clinical trials are looking at what works and what doesn’t, and if there might be any long-term drawbacks to treatment. Here’s what you need to know to make an informed decision about any treatments that are not currently approved by the FDA.

Basics about spine degeneration

Our spine ages just like everything else in the human body. After years of continued physical activity, cumulative trauma, weight gain, and even smoking, can cause cartilage in spinal discs to degenerate rapidly. Symptoms of spine degeneration include pain that is often made worse by movement, and numbness, tingling or weakness in your legs or arms.

Once damage has begun, it can extend to other discs, too. The spine is an intricately designed support structure, so when one area breaks down it can affect the whole thing. Current treatments are not curative – painkillers and spinal fusion surgery both have limits and drawbacks. Most significantly, none of these currently approved treatments stops the progress of spine degeneration or heals or restores the discs. 

How are stem cells different?

Stem cells make up the building blocks of our organs and vessels. All parts of our body started out as stem cells. These non-differentiated cells have the ability to replicate repeatedly and to morph into specialized types of cells.

Stem cells that are found in our adult bodies (as opposed to embryonic stem cells) are multipotent. This means they can transform into a number of different types of cells in specific organs or areas of the body. It’s important to note that our stem cells also change as we age.

What’s the theory behind stem cell treatment?

The hope is that adult stem cells once placed into the spinal disc will transform themselves into functioning cartilage. This means fresh cells, restored discs, and a cure for the degenerative disease. When injected into areas that have been ravaged by injury or degeneration, they present an opportunity for new cell and tissue growth.

Hope for the future

There are available stem cell treatments today but it’s important that you ask questions about possible side effects, or about whether or not your particular procedure has been approved by the FDA. Here are some questions you may want to ask:

Because this is a new procedure, there are not many long-term studies about the possible long-term complications associated with receiving stem cell injections in the spinal discs.

Other options

PRP or platelet-rich plasma therapy has been successfully used for patients with spine degeneration. Like with stem cell therapy, the patient’s own cells (blood cells in this case) are sampled, treated, and then injected into the area that needs treatment. The platelets contain growth factors that can promote healing and reduce inflammation. Like any new therapy, ask about whether the procedure is “off label”, meaning it is done outside of officially approved treatments, and what that means for you.

One thing is clear: there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to diagnosing chronic pain. Pain Specialists of Austin offers a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment. If you have any type of pain, call (855) 876-7246 for an appointment today. We have 10 convenient locations in the Austin, Texas area, and you can also request an appointment online.