Since its launch mid-January, SEMC’s pain management program has taken off.

Since its launch mid-January, SEMC’s pain management program has taken off. It’s no wonder when approximately 50 million Americans report suffering from chronic pain.

The pain program offers patients relief from various types of persistent pain and medical conditions, including arthritis, cancer pain, degenerated disc, fibromyalgia, herniated disc, sciatica, stenosis, back pain, headaches, joint pain, and neck pain. In addition, injections may be used to treat pain from motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and workplace injuries.

A few common injections include cervical and thoracic epidural steroid injections, transforaminal inject-ions, caudal injections, joint injections, facet injections, medial nerve branch blocks, sympathetic block and radiofrequency ablations (RFA)—all of which are non-narcotic and non-surgical methods.

“To start, a patient needs a referral from their provider. The provider can be from SEMC or another facility,” said Lori Bernier, SEMC Lead Surgical RN. “From there, we schedule a consult with Tim, our CRNA. Tim meets with patients to determine whether or not the patient is a good candidate for an injection. If it’s determined they are, we verify insurance coverage and proceed with scheduling.”

Patients with Medicare coverage can schedule the injection right away. SEMC assists all other patients in verifying insurance coverage prior to scheduling an injection.

A number of medical staff are involved in the injection process, including Tim Klassen, APRN, CRNA, NSPM-C; surgical technologists and nurses, and radiologic technologists.

Klassen said, “My goal of treatment is to treat pain holistically and to reduce pain and improve function.”

Klassen is one of six CRNAs in the state of Minnesota who is board-certified in non-surgical pain management. In addition, he is fellowship trained—a rarity in the state.

“Tim is great. He explains everything he’s doing in great detail and is extremely approachable,” said Bernier. “He’s also great with follow-through; patients don’t have to wait long to get scheduled, which is really nice.”

A piece of imaging equipment called a C-Arm, operated by a radiologic technologist, helps Klassen accurately identify the precise location of the injection. About a week after the injection, Klassen meets with patients to reevaluate pain levels, determine effectiveness, and discuss whether or not any additional measures are needed.

“We’ve had positive feedback from the patients we’ve seen thus far, and we’ve been very busy. It’s a huge benefit to our patients and community,” said Bernier.

Those suffering from chronic pain should talk with their primary care provider about a referral (required) for SEMC’s chronic pain program. Consults and injections are offered Tuesday afternoons at Sleepy Eye Medical Center.