Pain intervention

Pain interventions may be an alternative or adjunct to prescription pain medication. Your pain specialist may offer it if it is right for you

Cancer Education
3 min read

Pain intervention includes procedures such as injections and radiofrequency ablation. 

Pain intervention procedure information 

Booking a pain intervention procedure 

After assessment at the pain clinic, your pain specialist will discuss your interventional procedure with you at length, including a discussion on risks and benefits. If it is indicated, your pain specialist will book you in for an intervention procedure.  

Our team will contact you with specific information about your procedure. This information will include the date and time, and fasting information if required. 

Preparation for pain interventional procedures 

You can find out more about preparing for your interventional procedure. Please read the Interventional Pre-Procedure Admission Fact Sheet

The pain intervention procedure 

A specialist doctor performs these procedures, usually using imaging guidance. They perform them in:  

  • The operating theatre  

  • The radiology department 

They usually take a brief time (30 - 40 minutes). Depending on the procedure and your medical conditions, you may be administered some sedation for the procedure. After this time, you will need a brief period of monitoring on the ward before you return home. You will generally need someone to stay with you the night after the procedure. 

After the pain intervention procedure

It is difficult for us to know if an intervention will supply significant pain relief. Nor can we know for shore how much pain relief and for how long. Sometimes, you may notice a difference in your pain at once. Often, it can take weeks to notice benefits. Hence it may be beneficial to allow time for the intervention to be helpful. An intervention can last for many months. Sometimes the effectiveness may last for weeks. We will follow up with telephone calls to assess how effective the procedure was. 

Adverse Events 

Adverse events are not common. As with all procedures, serious adverse events may occur though. These include:

  • Failure to deliver pain relief 

  • Nerve damage 

  • Bleeding 

  • Infection

We reduce adverse events through: 

  • Image guidance  

  • Doing the procedure in a sterile environment

Procedure-specific fact sheets in the Resources section are also available. Please contact our team if you have specific questions about your procedure. We will follow you up for adverse events with telephone calls after the procedure. 

Common Interventional Pain Management Procedures 

Epidural injection 

The epidural space is in the spine area and contains nerve roots that supply the body. An epidural injection involves injecting steroid and/or local anaesthetic to this area. This aims to target the nerves associated with pain. 

Nerve blocks:  

This is an injection generally of local anaesthetic and/or steroid. This ‘blocks’ specific nerves supplying the regions associated with pain. Some nerves that we commonly block are: 

  • Stellate ganglion block: head/neck/upper limb region.

  • Suprascapular nerve block: shoulder region.

  • Lumbar sympathetic block: lower back/lower limb region.

  • Intercostal nerve block: chest wall region.

  • Coeliac plexus block: upper abdominal region.

Radiofrequency ablation  

This is like a longer-term nerve block. This procedure uses radio waves to burn or stun the nerves for a longer-term benefit. 

Device implantations 

This is a procedure that embeds a device under the skin in the back. The device stimulates the spinal cord nerves to relieve pain. 

Pain intervention resources 


Related links


Related pages