Ask the Doctors

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions we are often asked of a general nature are listed below. For questions and answers of a more specific area of the body click on one of the topics to the right.

1. Is your treatment new?

No, we’ve been treating patients with these procedures for over 10 years now. These procedures are internationally accepted techniques of the International Spinal Injection Society, the largest non-surgical spine care group in the world. These procedures are recognized as being effective options for treating persons with pain that originates in their spine or was caused by a spinal injury.

2. How long does it take to perform these procedures?

Typically, it takes about 10 to 20 minutes to perform the procedures, depending upon which treatment option is used for your specific situation. We’ll ask you to arrive about 1 hour before your procedure for check-in and general preparation work such as testing your blood pressure. Following the procedure, you would stay in the recovery room for about 30 to 60 minutes until you are ready to go home.

3. Where is the treatment performed?

The treatment is performed in accredited outpatient specialty surgical centers or treatment suites at hospitals in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, The Woodlands or Humble.

4. How quickly can I have the procedures performed after I’ve had my initial appointment with one of your physicians?

We can usually schedule the procedures within a week or so after your initial appointment. We understand that your pain is real and keeps you from enjoying life. We’re focused on helping you get better.

5. If my MRI is negative, is it still possible that I can have an irritated nerve in my back or neck that is causing the pain?

Yes. An MRI is an indirect image of the spine and does not always show everything. In addition, an MRI usually is taken while you are laying down. Nerves can shift when you change positions, especially if your pain is worse with when you stand or sit. The disk can leak part of its “jelly” center—or nucleus—around the nerves, which can cause significant chemical inflammation and pain. Our procedures can dramatically reduce the pain and inflammation resulting in increased circulation and healing.

6. I was told that my problem is caused by a strained muscle. Can you do anything for this problem?

If your problem really is a strained muscle, then you should have gotten better with a short course of physical therapy. While your muscles may hurt, when it comes to spine disorders, the muscles are usually reacting in a protective fashion to an underlying spine disorder.

If your pain has lasted for over two weeks, then it’s very possible that the spine is a source for the muscle spasm and pain. If you wish to get better, you have to get to the real source of pain and not just treat the symptoms.

7. My doctor suggested trigger point muscle injections to treat my pain. Will this help?

Generally speaking, trigger point injections are not effective for treating spine disorders. These types of injections usually only mask the symptoms for a short period of time. If you want longer-term relief, you must get to the source of the problem, which rests in a disorder of the spine itself.

8. When can I return to work or resume other normal activities after I have the procedure?

Depending upon the procedure that is used, most of our patients are able to resume work and other normal activities within one or two days following the treatment. The recovery time is quick, because the procedure pinpoints the pain area and is not highly invasive like surgery. Unlike surgery, our treatments do not cause irreversible changes to your body that require a prolonged recovery time.

9. Will I need to take any pain relief medication after the procedures?

Typically, most of our patients do not take any additional pain medicine after a procedure. Any soreness that occurs after the procedure can usually be taken care of with your usual pain medicine, ibuprofen type medications or Tylenol. If you require a stronger medication, we will review your medical history and provide you with the appropriate medicine.

10. I can’t take any narcotic drugs because of my work, but I still have pain. Are there any non-narcotic drugs that will help treat my pain?

Most of our patients do not need to take any pain medications on a regular basis following the procedure. However, if you are still experiencing some pain, we can prescribe a non-narcotic medicine for you. There are several new non-narcotic drugs that are designed specifically to address nerve-related pain, and we have had excellent success in treating patients with these drugs. As with any medication, we would review your medical history and perform a complete examination before prescribing any medication.

11. My general physician isn’t aware of this type of treatment to treat my pain. Do you often find that general physicians aren’t familiar with your treatment options?

The techniques that we utilize in our procedures were not available or taught when most physicians did their medical training. Most physicians who are not specialists in the field of spine care are unaware of all options that are now available for diagnosing and treating spine disorders.

Without a specific diagnosis, patients turn to various alternatives such as physical therapy or medication that do not address their exact problem. These patients usually do not experience any significant improvement.

Many of our patients learn about our practice through their relatives, friend and co-workers—instead of their general physicians. And by the way, we’ve treated many doctors and their spouses for their pain-related problems who were referred to our practice by our patients.

12. I’m been told that only surgery can fix my pain problem. Would it still be worthwhile for me to meet with one of your physicians before I undergo surgery?

Yes, it most likely would be very worthwhile for you to meet with one of our physicians before you decide to have surgery. In some cases, we have been able treat patients’ pain problems with excellent outcomes, and they did not have to undergo surgery.

If you still need to have surgery, our diagnosis will provide valuable information to your surgeon regarding the exact location of the cause of your pain problem, resulting in a better outcome for your operation and recovery. In fact, many orthopedic surgeons ask us to perform these procedures on their patients before they undergo surgery so they can use our findings to provide additional information for the operation.

13. My doctor suggested Botox injections for my problems. Can Botox be beneficial for my condition?

We do not recommend Botox for treating back or neck pain. Botox paralyzes the very muscles that are trying to support your spine when an underlying disk or joint creates a problem. We have seen people treated this way who might have recovered from an initial minor disorder only to need surgical fusion because of the instability that developed after the supporting muscles were taken away by Botox.

14. I live outside of Houston. Do you know of any doctors in my town who perform the procedures that your practice offers?

Most likely we don’t know of any doctors in your town who perform these procedures. There are very few doctors in Texas who specialize in these procedures as we do. Our patients come from across the U.S. and overseas to be diagnosed and treated by our physicians.

15. How do your diagnostic procedures compare to pain management practices?

We take a very different approach to treating pain compared to pain management practices. Unlike pain management specialists, we do not focus on “masking” your pain or teaching you how to live with your pain. Instead, our focus is diagnosing the specific cause of your pain and treating that cause with a proven procedure.

16. I read a newspaper article about a new treatment for back pain that involves traction on a disk using a special machine that can even reverse disk herniations. Should I try this treatment?

Unfortunately, the “latest and greatest” spine treatments are easily peddled in America. Studies have shown that treatment for pain has a placebo response rate between 20% and 30%. That means that any “snake oil” or sugar pill will make about 25% of people feel better—at least temporarily.

About 80% of all initial back injuries also resolve spontaneously and most disk herniations will resorb in time without any treatment. So, it is easy to see how these new “treatments” can claim success by using a few patients who felt better. The same goes for magnets, many balms and tonics.

17. I have a friend who has experienced the same kind of pain that I had. Should they also see you about their problem?

Of course, everyone’s situation can be different—even if you experience pain in the same area. Various disorders can cause pain in the same area of the body. For instance, problems with disks and joints in the spine can lead to pain in the hip and leg, but require different procedures to treat the pain. That’s why you need to consult with a physician who is experienced in finding the cause of your pain so that you can get the proper treatment.

We’d welcome the opportunity to talk with your friend to see if we can help him or her. A large percentage of our patients are referred to us by their relatives, friends and co-workers.

18. Do you accept insurance?

Yes, we accept most insurance plans, workers compensation and Medicare. Please contact our office directly for coverage verification.

19. How do I make an appointment with your practice?

You can make an appointment by:

  • Call our offices from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. The phone number for our Houston office is 713.790.1500 and the phone number for our Humble office is 281-540-7246.
  • Our toll free number is 1.800.856-PAIN  "1.800.856.7246".