Frequently Asked Questions

What is chronic pain?

The term “chronic pain” refers to pain that’s lasted three or more months, or pain that persists after an original injury or surgery has healed. 

What is pain management?

Pain management is a multimodal approach to controlling, managing and minimizing pain. Treatment plans may include minimally invasive interventional procedures (like spinal-cord stimulators, injections, pain pumps, epidurals, etc.) psychological support, medication or potentially a referral for physical therapy or surgery. 


What type of training do pain management doctors have?

Most pain-management doctors specialized in anesthesiology then “subspecialized” in interventional pain management. Pain-medicine training is a post-residency fellowship program dedicated to acute, chronic, and cancer pain. 


What can I expect when I see my pain management doctor? 

Dr. Gilthorpe will perform a physical evaluation and review radiographic images and medical records before devising a full treatment plan -- one that’s specific to each individual patient. He may perform some procedures in-house, on the spot, insurance and other factors permitting. 


What can I expect immediately after injections?

You will feel relief from the local anesthetic used during the procedure, though this may wear off quickly. However, the primary medication Dr. Gilthorpe injects will begin to take effect over a few days or a week, with each passing day potentially offering more relief.


How long to injections last?

The length of a pain procedure’s effect can vary, some will be semi-permanent treatments that need to be performed once or twice a year. Others may need to be repeated with more frequency. This depends partly on the type of procedure and on the physiology of each individual patient. 


Other than injections, what are my non-medication options?

Intrathecal pain pumps, kypoplasty, minimally invasive lumbar fusion and spinal-cord stimulators are among the potential treatments. Medication is prescribed conservatively for those patients who need it. For more information about these, please visit our Services page.


Will I be asleep -- under general anesthesia -- for procedures?

1) Interventional procedures are a quick, outpatient appointment at Better Life Spine & Pain Center's medical suite. 

2) For patients who have severe anxiety or needle phobia, procedures can be completed with sedation at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital. 

3) Dr. Gilthorpe also performs some minimally invasive surgeries at Methodist Willowbrook.