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Pain Management

If you suffer from chronic pain in Phoenix, you are not alone. According to the American Chronic Pain Association, 50 million Americans suffer from pain on a daily basis, and more than 72% of them have lived with pain for more than a decade. Chronic pain is a complex medical problem that can have profound effects on a person’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Customized Pain Management Plans

The Pain Management Center at St. Luke’s Medical Center features a professional, experienced pain management team that is dedicated to treating a wide variety of conditions and symptoms. After an initial assessment, physicians and nurses will work with you to design an individualized treatment plan with the goal of achieving the most pain relief that is possible.

Through proper pain management, patients can successfully decrease their level of pain and suffering, achieve a maximum level of functionality and independence, and restore a better quality of life. Our outpatient setting makes it convenient for you to schedule an appointment for treatment. You may be a candidate for pain management if you suffer from:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Pain from illnesses or injury
  • Collision-related injuries
  • Degenerative medical conditions

Our pain management services also include:

  • Comprehensive management of chronic pain conditions ranging from joint disorders to Degenerative Disc Disease of the Lumbar, Thoracic, and Cervical Spine
  • Multi-modal treatment ranging from interventional treatment to medical management. Our comprehensive treatment plans prioritize individualized patient-centric care.
  • Innovative treatment including Dorsal Root Ganglion Implants and Spinal Cord Stimulator Implants

For many types of pain, there is no one-size-fits-all procedure. That’s why our pain management team works with patients on a one-on-one basis to develop innovative and effective pain management plans.

We’re Qualified

Our team includes board-certified physicians who:

  • Know about chronic pain and how to treat it.
  • Listen to your concerns.
  • Ask you questions to identify the problem.
  • Encourage you to ask questions.
  • Work with you to develop a plan to treat the pain.

Advanced Pain Management Therapies In Phoenix

St. Luke’s Medical Center partners with Tempe and Phoenix-based pain management providers that are board-certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology. Providers offer many advanced therapies for managing acute and chronic pain, including some therapies that are not performed at any other facilities in the area. Select a procedure below to learn more about it:

Cervical / Lumbar Facet Radiofrequency Ablation
DRG (Dorsal Root Ganglion) Stimulation
Epidural Steroid Injections (Cervical, Lumbar, Thoracic)
Facet Joint Injections
Lumbar Sympathetic Blocks
Nerve Blocks
Percutaneous Disc Decompression
Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Steroid Injections
Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial/Implant

How to Seek Care for Chronic Pain

Our Pain Management Center accepts most insurance plans or has financing options available. Patients must have a physician’s order to be treated in the Pain Management Center. For more information, please call 1-877-351-WELL (9355).

Pain Quiz: Do You Have Back or Neck Pain?

Take this quick quiz to determine if pain management may be right for you:

  1. Is your neck or back pain interfering with your ability to walk, sit, stand, sleep or lift?
  2. Do you stay at home most of the time due to neck and/or back pain?
  3. Do you change positions frequently because you are uncomfortable?
  4. Does your pain interfere with your ability to do routine chores at home?
  5. Do you have difficulty getting in and out of a chair due to pain?
  6. Is your pain affecting your personal relationships?
  7. Does your pain limit the distance you are able to drive?
  8. Are daily medications necessary to manage your pain?
  9. Do you experience difficulty sleeping due to pain?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, contact your insurance company to determine if you need a referral from your primary care physician for pain management services. To schedule an appointment, call (602) 795-PAIN (7246).

Cervical / Lumbar Facet Radiofrequency Ablation

Many people experience neck pain. Sometimes neck pain can be so intense that it prevents people from living the lives they once enjoyed. Instead of taking higher and higher dosages of pain meds or “just living with it,” many adults with neck or back pain in Phoenix have found relief through cervical / lumbar facet radiofrequency ablation, an advanced pain management technology available at St. Luke’s Medical Center.

In this minimally invasive procedure, pain management specialists aim to stop the pain that occurs when a nerve is pinched by a joint in the neck. Fluoroscopy (a real-time “enhanced” x-ray) helps the physician guide a special electrode to the medial branch nerves near the spine. A weak electric current is sent through the electrode to test if pain lessens. If the current is successful, then the pain management physician cauterizes the nerve, which prevents those neck pain signals from traveling to the brain, where they register as “pain.”

This procedure can be an effective option for people who have chronic neck / back pain; it may even provide longer-lasting pain relief than steroid block injections can offer.


Patients who live with chronic hip, knee or SI joint pain, and want a non-surgical, non-narcotic treatment should know about COOLIEF*, a new cooled radiofrequency (RF) technology available through Phoenix pain management specialists at St. Luke’s Medical Center. Through this procedure, which uses targeted radiofrequency energy that’s cooled by the constant circulation of water, physicians are able to treat a wider area than is possible with conventional RF methods. The COOLIEF* system heats sensory nerves in the joint that cause pain signals to travel to the brain, a procedure that typically results in significant pain relief in just one to two weeks following treatment.

The COOLIEF* system is a brief outpatient procedure; some COOLIEF* treatments, such as hip treatment, take just 20 minutes to complete. COOLIEF* Cooled RF is proven to be an effective minimally invasive outpatient procedure for relieving pain, resulting in greater mobility and a quicker recovery. In addition to these benefits, COOLIEF* is a cost-effective option for many patients when compared to the alternatives.


Discography is a diagnostic technique used to locate the source of back pain in the spine. This procedure can be very helpful for developing a treatment plan to manage chronic back pain. During the procedure, the patient rests flat on a table (face down). A sedative may be given to help you relax, however you do remain awake during this procedure. Once you are relaxed, the pain management specialist injects a local anesthetic to numb the skin on the back. After the anesthetic has taken effect, guide needles are inserted into the back. A pressurized contrast dye is then administered via the guide needles into the targeted spinal discs. The physician can view the contrast dye in the disc using special imaging technology. If the pressurization causes pain or discomfort, then the pain management specialist may have found the source of the back pain; if there is no elevated pain or discomfort, then other discs may be tested in the same way.

DRG (Dorsal Root Ganglion) Stimulation

For many people living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Types 1 & 2 and other types of chronic pain, spinal cord stimulation has been one of the best options for pain relief. A new device known as the Axium Neurostimulator System, now available from Phoenix pain management specialists at St. Luke’s Medical Center, is raising the ceiling of possibilities for certain patients.

The new device, which is the first and only FDA-approved neurostimulator device of its kind, stimulates the dorsal root ganglion (DRG), a cluster of highly sensitive nerve cell bodies. The DRG is responsible for relaying sensory information from the peripheral nervous system to the brain; the sensation of pain is included in this relay. By stimulating the DRG directly, pain management specialists aim to block pain signals from the lower legs, feet, and groin from traveling to the brain. This new approach has had an excellent success rate when compared to tonic spinal cord stimulation. Long-term clinical data indicates that patients report meaningful pain relief and greater treatment success with DRG stimulation (74.2%) compared to those who had SCS (just 53% reported meaningful pain relief).

Epidural Steroid Injections (Cervical, Lumbar, Thoracic)

Epidural steroid injection (ESI) is a minimally invasive pain management strategy frequently used by physicians at St. Luke’s Medical Center. ESI may be used to treat lower back pain, sciatica and other conditions as prescribed by your physician. During the epidural steroid injection, the patient lies face down on a table. A local anesthetic is injected to numb the skin on the back. Next, the pain management specialist injects a contrast dye into the epidural space. The contrast dye, when viewed with special imaging technology, assists the specialist in accurately placing the needle tip in the epidural space. Once accurate placement is confirmed, a steroid-anesthetic mixture is injected into the space.

ESIs can manage many types of pain caused by nerve roots branching off the spinal cord. A cervical ESI may help manage pain that radiates into the shoulders and arms; a lumbar ESI could help with pain in the lower back, buttocks and thighs; a thoracic ESI could be prescribed to manage mid-back and shoulder pain.

Facet Joint Injections

Facet joint injection is both a diagnostic and therapeutic procedure used by pain management specialists at St. Luke’s Medical Center for relieving pain and inflammation. The facet joints are located on the sides of the vertebrae; they allow the spine to bend and twist. In some people, the facet joints may pinch the nerves that exit the spinal cord and pass through them, causing chronic pain and inflammation.

Prior to the actual facet joint injection, which is a brief minimally invasive procedure, the skin on the back is numbed with a local anesthetic. Once the numbing agent has set in, a contrast dye is injected into the suspect facet joints. Fluoroscopy, which allows the physician to see the contrast dye and joint in real-time, is used to guide needle placement into the facet joint. A steroid/anesthetic mixture is then injected into the facet joint to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief, which may last anywhere from several days to several months. Some patients may have facet joint injections up to three times per year in order to have consistent pain relief.


Kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty are two well-established procedures used by Phoenix pain management specialists at St. Luke’s Medical Center for treating fractured vertebrae. Patients with compressed vertebrae – caused by osteoporosis, trauma (such as a car accident), bone cancer, or other factors – may be candidates for one of these procedures. Typically, these procedures are only used if other simpler therapies, such as rest and the use of a back brace are insufficient. While these two minimally invasive procedures are similar, there are some differences. Your surgeon will discuss which one is right for you.

In kyphoplasty, the physician inflates a balloon in the collapsed vertebra cavity to restore it to its former height. The balloon is then deflated and removed and a bone cement is injected into the cavity. The cement hardens, creating a new, stable “vertebra” in the spine with the goal of eliminating pain and restoring comfort. Patients typically go home the same day. Vertebroplasty is very similar, but a balloon is not used to inflate the space in this procedure.

Lumbar Sympathetic Blocks

Pain management specialists at St. Luke’s Medical Center use lumbar sympathetic blocks to manage leg pain in patients with Complex Regional Pain Syndromes and other conditions. This minimally invasive procedure, which is done while the patient is awake but sedated, begins with the injection of a local anesthetic into the skin and deeper tissues. Next, the specialist injects a contrast dye, which allows him or her to see and target the sympathetic nerves. Once the target nerves are confirmed, a combination medication (typically including an anesthetic, saline, and anti-inflammatory agent) is delivered to the area. This medication blocks pain signals from traveling from the nerves to the brain. As a result, many patients experience significant improvements in leg pain. Multiple lumbar sympathetic blocks may be necessary for further pain relief.

Nerve Blocks

A nerve block is a diagnostic procedure used to precisely locate the source of pain in the spine. In the procedure, an anesthetic is administered to areas that are believed to be the source of pain. If the anesthetic is successful in providing temporary relief, then the physician may perform a longer-lasting injection in the same area.

Percutaneous Disc Decompression

Percutaneous disc decompression is a minimally-invasive procedure that is done to provide pain relief and stability following a herniated (ruptured) disc in the spine. During the procedure, which is done with a local anesthetic, a cannula is inserted into the herniated disc using fluoroscopic guidance. A tiny radiofrequency probe is then passed through the cannula; the probe uses intense energy to dissolve portions of the disc nucleus while not compromising the spine’s overall stability. Over time, the disc resorbs the herniated portions, and patients enjoy significant improvement of symptoms. No muscles or bone are cut during this procedure, which oftentimes results in a fast recovery for patients; some patients return to normal activities in just one week.

Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Steroid Injections

The sacroiliac (SI) joints are two joints on either side of the spine, just above the tailbone where the spine meets the hips. Inflammation in these joints can cause significant pain and discomfort. Common symptoms of SI joint pain include pain in the lower back; pain, numbness, weakness or tingling in the legs; pain in the pelvis, buttocks, hips or groin; and feeling unstable in the legs.

Rather than taking opioids or narcotics, which have many side effects that can drastically affect a person’s quality of life, many patients with SI joint pain in Phoenix are finding relief through steroid injections at St. Luke’s Medical Center. SI joint steroid injections reduce inflammation so that joints can move more freely.

During an SI joint injection procedure, the patient lies face down and a local anesthesia is injected into the SI joint area. Once the anesthesia has set in, the pain management specialist injects a contrast dye into the epidural space. This dye, when viewed under a fluoroscope, allows the physician to place a needle with a steroid-anesthetic mixture in exactly the right space. This mixture can help reduce inflammation and improve pain symptoms. Some patients may need to undergo anywhere from one to three injections in order to get maximum SI joint pain relief.

Spinal Cord Stimulator Trial/Implant

A spinal cord stimulator (SCS) is an implantable device that blocks pain signals as they travel up the spinal cord to the brain. This device can be used to manage pain signals that come from the back, legs and arms. Implanting one of these devices requires planning and testing in order for patients to have best results.

At St. Luke’s Medical Center, patients undergo a brief trial procedure first. During the trial procedure, small wire leads are connected to the spinal cord via an epidural needle. This can be done under a local anesthetic and is not a major surgery. An external trial simulator device sends electrical currents to the spine in different areas. The patient receives a pain journal to track how these electrical currents make her feel over the next three to five days. If pulses and locations result in reduced pain, then the temporary trial device can be replaced with a permanent implant. The permanent implant is a wirelessly programmed battery-powered pulse generator that goes just beneath the skin (usually in the buttocks or abdomen). This device has been very successful for alleviating back pain in many patients throughout Phoenix.

See a Pain Management Specialist In Phoenix

For more information about your pain management options in Phoenix, AZ, contact us at (602) 795-PAIN (7246). You have non-opioid/narcotic options for dealing with pain… let the Phoenix pain management specialists at St. Luke’s Medical Center help you find what works.

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