A perfect storm in interventional pain management: regulated, but unbalanced

Pain Physician. 2010 Mar-Apr;13(2):109-16.


Interventional pain management now stands at the crossroads at what is described as "the perfect storm." The confluence of several factors has led to devastating results for interventional pain management. This article seeks to provide a perspective to various issues producing conditions conducive to creating a "perfect storm" such as use and abuse of interventional pain management techniques, and in the same context, use and abuse of various non-interventional techniques. The rapid increase in opioid drug prescribing, costs to health care, large increases in death rates, and random and rampant drug testing, can also lead to increases in health care utilization. Other important aspects that are seldom discussed include medico-legal and ethical perspectives of individual and professional societal opinions and the interpretation of diagnostic accuracy of controlled diagnostic blocks. The aim of this article is to discuss the impact of several factors on interventional pain management and overuse, abuse, waste, and fraud; inappropriate application without evidence-based literature support (sometimes leading to selective use or non-use of randomized or observational studies for proving biased viewpoints - post priori rather than a priori), and issues related to multiple professional societies having their own agendas to push rather than promulgating the science of interventional pain management. This perspective is based on a review of articles published in this issue of Pain Physician, information in the public domain, and other relevant articles. Based on the results of this review, various issues of relevance to modern interventional pain management are discussed and the viewpoints of several experts debated. In conclusion, supporters of interventional pain management disagree on multiple aspects for various reasons while detractors claim that interventional pain management should not exist as a speciality. Issues to be addressed include appropriate use of evidence-based medicine (EBM), overuse, overutilization, and abuse.

Publication types

  • Introductory Journal Article

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia / ethics*
  • Analgesia / methods*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • Drug and Narcotic Control / trends
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Care Costs / trends
  • Health Services Misuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Misuse / trends
  • Malpractice / trends
  • Neurology / ethics
  • Neurology / methods
  • Neurology / trends
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain Clinics / ethics*
  • Pain Clinics / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Pain Clinics / trends*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / trends
  • Reimbursement Mechanisms / trends
  • Substance Abuse Detection / trends


  • Analgesics, Opioid