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The Augusta Pain Center in Augusta, GA, is an area leader in pain management, offering a variety of state-of-the-art services designed to help patients of all ages find relief from chronic pain.

Opened in 2001, the Augusta Pain Center is staffed by an experienced interventional pain management physician — Richard Epter, M.D., Medical Director — who has more than 20 years of experience helping patients find relief from chronic pain, such as headache, back pain and neck pain.

The Evolution of Pain Management

As technology has continued to become more advanced, the development of several new techniques has allowed for increases in the number of chronic pain treatment options available to patients. Patients with all types of neck or back pain, including patients who have had back surgery or other previous surgeries for pain, now have many options available for pain control.

“There are many patients who can benefit from pain management techniques,” says Dr. Epter. “Sciatic pain and spinal arthritis are both treatable conditions, and patients who have had previous back surgery also have excellent options for long-term pain control. Through these advances in technique and technology, we have also been very successful in identifying the source of a patient’s pain, which has often gone undetected for several months or years.”

According to Dr. Epter, the largest advancement in the field of pain management has been the development and use of fluoroscopy, which has allowed for the introduction of new interventional pain management procedures and increased safety and accuracy during procedures.

“With the application of fluoroscopy in the pain management field, physicians are now able to offer new procedures that were not performed 15 to 20 years ago, including transforaminal epidural steroid injections, catheter-guided epidural lysis of adhesions and many different types of radiofrequency procedures for joint pain and nerve pain,” says Dr. Epter. “Utilizing fluoroscopy, we have been able to enhance the safety and accuracy of treatment modalities.”

Great strides have also been made in the area of spinal cord stimulation. Rechargeable batteries have made it possible for patients to avoid additional surgical procedures, which were required with nonrechargeable batteries.

“The delivery of current to the spinal cord area and the manner in which it is delivered has changed tremendously due to recent technological advances,” says Dr. Epter. “In past years, when the battery discharged, surgery would have been required to replace the battery — sometimes in one to two years. Now, with rechargeable batteries, surgery should not be necessary for 10 years or more. Also, spinal cord stimulation is often provided now with the use of multiple leads allowing more chronic pain conditions to be treated. This type of stimulation did not exist 15 to 20 years ago.

The Augusta Pain Center Difference

At the Augusta Pain Center, extra emphasis is placed on identifying the underlying cause of a patient’s pain. By determining the pain generator responsible for symptoms, a treatment plan can be identified to treat the manifestation of the disease process that is causing the patient’s pain.

“As an interventional pain management specialist, I seek to identify the cause of the patient’s pain so that we can eliminate it or control it with as minimal medication usage as possible,” says Dr. Epter. “This is especially important when patients have been taking narcotics for pain management. Narcotics carry many risks, and there has been increased regulation regarding narcotic use in recent years. Thousands of narcotic-related deaths occur each year due to patients taking prescriptions both legally and illegally. Therefore, identifying the cause of a patient’s pain and utilizing a specific treatment plan designed for each patient’s individual pain generator can help improve a patient’s function, decrease his or her pain and optimize quality of life.”

To best achieve this, each patient undergoes a comprehensive evaluation at his or her initial appointment. The evaluation includes a physical examination and medical history and correlation with physiologic and radiologic studies. This comprehensive assessment helps physicians identify a patient’s pain generator and develop an individualized treatment plan.

A combination of therapies is generally necessary to help patients optimize their functioning. Often, this combination involves physical therapy, aquatic therapy, interventional procedures, behavioral therapy and medication.

“Treatment plans often involve the use of multiple pain relief modalities,” says Dr. Epter. “This comprehensive approach provides patients with the optimal outcome of achieving pain relief and regaining function.”

Interventional pain procedures that may be performed for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes include epidural steroid injections, selective nerve root blocks, sympathetic nerve procedures, radiofrequency lesioning, lysis of epidural adhesions, intradiscal procedures, spinal cord stimulation and procedures used 
to relieve sacroiliac joint pain, facial pain, pain of the hip, knee 
or shoulder, and pain associated with shingles and postherpetic neuralgia.

All services are delivered in the Augusta Pain Center’s new state-of-the-art facility located in the Epicenter Building, which opened in March 2010. This facility features the pain center where patients are evaluated and examined, a Joint Commission-accredited surgery center where fluoroscopic-guided interventional procedures are performed and a center for aquatic therapy that is delivered by a staff of accredited aquatic therapists. Epicenter Golf, which utilizes the only golf simulator that is approved by the Professional Golf Association. It is also available for golf instruction and patient use. This golf simulator allows for open, simulated play on 40 different courses. A golf rehabilitation program is also currently in development, as well as Epicenter Wellness, which will provide personalized fitness instruction and nutritional counseling to help patients continue achieving rehabilitative success after physical therapy has been completed.

“This facility has been designed specifically for the chronic pain patient,” says Dr. Epter. “We have a committed staff that was chosen for their experience and empathy towards patients experiencing chronic pain, and we strive to provide patients with modalities that will optimize their functioning and return to daily activities pain free.”

For more information about the Augusta Pain Center, call  (706) 738-7246 or visit