What is the difference between acute and chronic pain?

What is the difference between acute and chronic pain?

How is pain defined? Understanding the answer to this simple question can help you and your doctor find the best treatment to your pain. Understanding pain starts by first defining the most basic aspect of pain: acute pain vs chronic pain. 



Acute Pain is typically defined by a type of pain that lasts less than 3 months, or pain that is directly related to soft tissue damage such as a sprained ankle or a paper cut. Acute pain is of short duration and gradually resolves as the injured tissue heals. We usually think of acute pain as sharp and severe (2). 


Chronic Pain is any pain that lasts for more than three months. The pain can become progressively worse and reoccur occasionally, outlasting the usual healing process. After injured tissue heals, pain is expected to stop once the underlying condition is treated, according to conventional ideas of pain. However, chronic pain can persist after injuries for no apparent biological cause. Chronic pain can cause significant psychological and emotional trauma and often limits an individual’s ability to fully function (1). 



(1.) https://www.spine-health.com/glossary/chronic-pain


Employee Spotlight: Heather and Tiffany

Employee Spotlight: Heather & Tiffany

Meet Heather & Tiffany, our dynamic Radiologic Technologists! Heather and Tiffany are highly trained medical personnel who help physicians while they perform many different therapeutic injections and procedures! They are a superb example of teamwork, and always offer to help however they can! Twin Cities Pain Clinic and Surgery Center would like to acknowledge them for all of their hard work!





What is your position?

Lead Radiologic Technologist / Being Awesome

How long have you been with TCPC/TCSC?

I started on October 12th 2015! 

What are some of your hobbies?

I am a new mom to a gigantic baby named Leo. I like to garden and play cards.

What is your favorite thing about working at TCPC?

My coworkers are insane and make me laugh everyday. We also have two candy drawers. So, I have that going for me … which is nice.




What is your position? 

Radiologic Technologist

How long have you been with TCPC/TCSC?

I have been with Twin Cities Surgery Center since May 2017.

What are some of you hobbies?

I like to spend time with my family at our cabin on Mille Lacs Lake, watching my kids play sports and spending time with my friends.

What is your favorite thing about working at TCPC/TCSC?

My favorite thing about working at TCSC is spending time with my awesome co-workers and helping our patients have a good experience during their visits. 


Thank you for all of your hard work! Twin Cities Pain Clinic and Surgery Center appreciates your dedication to patient care.




Targeted Drug Delivery

“Besides pain killers, I tried shots, nerve burnings, triggers, and multiple injections, but I was still in agony. I couldn’t vacuum or walk. I just sat in a chair. Now I can finally go shopping again and do the things I want to do.” – Tami

Targeted drug delivery is an alternate route of delivering pain medication at a fraction of the typical oral dose. The therapy is proven, safe, and effective for managing chronic pain. An implantable pump is filled with pain medication. The pump is connected to a thin, flexible tube called a catheter. The system continuously delivers the drug directly into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord, in an area called the intrathecal space. That means much less pain medicine and fewer side effects. Oral pain pills must be digested, enter the bloodstream, and cross the central nervous system to reach pain signals. Targeted drug delivery works directly at the source to stop nerves from sending pain messages. 

Potential Benefits of Targeted Drug Delivery

  • Improved ability to function and participate in day-to-day activities
  • Effective pain relief
  • Less or no need for oral pain medication
  • Fewer side effects compared to oral medication
  • Patient satisfaction
  • Personalized – you can manage your own pain therapy by delivering a dose of medication within your doctor’s pre-set limits
  • Surgically reversible

A key advantage of Targeted Drug Delivery is that you can try it first and experience how the therapy may work for you!

Like test driving a car, the screening trial allows you to “test drive” targeted drug delivery before committing to long-term therapy. The screening trial allows you to assess how targeted drug delivery may relieve your pain during daily activities, experience how it feels to receive pain medication targeted to the intrathecal space and decide if you want to go ahead with an implant. 


Ongoing Care

The pump needs to be refilled periodically with your medication. Refills are important for providing you with continuous pain therapy. Your doctor may also adjust the dose so you receive the best pain relief possible. Be sure to make and keep your refill appointments! Missing a refill appointment could result in:

  • Underdose (too little medication), which could lead to withdrawal symptoms
  • Loss of pain relief therapy, or a change in your therapy
  • Pump damage that could require pump replacement surgery 


To read more about Intrathecal Pain Pumps please visit http://www.twincitiespainclinic.com/services/intrathecal-pain-pump/ or call 952-841-2345 to schedule an appointment with one of our experts!




Components of a Spinal Cord Stimulator

Do you have chronic, debilitating pain that has lasted longer than 3 months?

Have you tried and failed conservative therapies?

Don’t want to pursue surgery due to risks and long recovery?


Spinal Cord Stimulation might be an effective treatment for you! Let’s break down the different parts of a Spinal Cord Stimulator:

The Generator – A small device that sends out mild electrical pulses, which contains a battery. This is implanted in your body.





The Leads – Thin insulated wires that carry the electrical pulses from the generator to your spinal cord. These are placed in your body along your spinal cord.



The Patient Controller – A handheld “remote control” that allows you to adjust the strength and location of stimulation or even turn stimulation off. Twin Cities Pain Clinic offers all of the leading SCS brands. Ask your provider today to help determine the right device for you!


Click here to read more about Spinal Cord Stimulation.

Click here for SCS Frequently Asked Questions.

Keep Pain Away This Thanksgiving

If you have chronic pain, you may be wondering how you will be able to manage the holidays. Getting together with family and friends is great, but all the events and obligations can make the season exhausting – and painful. Twin Cities Pain Clinic offers our top strategies for a less stressful, more comfortable Thanksgiving!


1.  Make a list of your priorities

Before the holidays approach, think about what you really enjoy about this time of year. Make a list of your favorite activities. If a longtime tradition has become more of a chore than a celebration, take it off your list.

If you are suffering from chronic pain, you may need to make a few changes to your holiday plans that require a lot of standing, bending or lifting. If you love to cook a big family meal, for instance, see if a friend or family member would be able to stop by and help so you aren’t bending over a hot oven by yourself.


2.  Let others help

“If there’s anything I can do, let me know!” We have all heard this before. This is the time of year to have your answer ready! Whether it is shoveling the sidewalk, picking up the ingredients for a pumpkin pie, or bringing in the Christmas tree. Make a detailed list of your holiday duties that could add to your pain – and leave yourself off the list. See if there is a family member or friend that could help you out with the more difficult tasks.

Setting priorities and doing less can be difficult, especially if you’re someone who usually takes care of everyone else. By planning ahead and delegating duties you are making a very important commitment to your health and well-being.


3.  Keep moving

Climbing a ladder to put the star on the top of the tree should be avoided, but don’t abandon your exercise routine. Stretches and gentle aerobic exercises, such as walking, can help improve your outlook by producing endorphins, the body’s natural pain reliever.

Exercise can help counteract depression, which has the potential to develop alongside chronic pain. Swimming or doing water exercises in a warm pool can be a soothing health break from the holiday rush.


4.  Get it delivered

Many of your local restaurants and retailers offer delivery services. Call your favorite restaurant or grocery store or check on its website to learn about delivery options. Some places offer economical dinner packages for a group. Avoiding the bending, lifting and twisting involved in shopping and cooking for a large group is probably worth the cost of the meal.


5.  Travel Pain Free

Traveling during the holidays can aggravate your pain. Make sure to consider your pain while scheduling flights or long car rides. Try to book a direct flight when possible, the less time spent cramped in the air the better. Bring a back support cushion, back roll, or even a couple of pillows to support your back, keeping pain at bay.

Pack light- a heavy bag can be more than just an inconvenience, it can cause or aggravate back pain by straining muscles and joints. To avoid unnecessary strain, it’s best to use a light suitcase with wheels and a handle for rolling it. Instead of stuffing one large suitcase full, it’s often better to use a few smaller bags. 


Ask the Professionals

Still have questions? Don’t hesitate to contact your provider at Twin Cities Pain Clinic for tips, tricks, or resources that align with your particular diagnosis or pain situation. Be thorough in your travel plans to ensure we can best meet your needs.


From the Twin Cities Pain Clinic family to yours, we wish you safe travels and a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday with your loved ones.

Employee Spotlight: Melissa


Employee Spotlight: Melissa

 Meet Melissa, one of our Eligibility and Referral Specialists! Melissa makes sure our patients are scheduled efficiently and at a time that is most convenient for them! She always takes the time to answer questions and is a true team player!





What is your position?

I started my career at Twin Cities Pain Clinic as an Administrative Assistant, but I currently work as a part of the Eligibility and Referral Specialists team! My department is responsible for scheduling all new patient appointments. We also make sure our patient’s insurance is up to date! We are always working to make sure patients have the correct referral information to meet their insurance company’s needs.

How long have you been with TCPC? 

I started working at Twin Cities Pain Clinic in September 2015.

What are some of your hobbies

I love being outside! My fiancé and I have three dogs (two Boxers and a Yorkie mix) so we go on a lot of walks/hikes. I believe in curling up in a blanket on a cold night and watching a movie is a must. Family is VERY important to me so I try to spend as much time as I can. Also, my fiancé and I are expecting our first baby in February! Preparing for our new addition has taken up a lot of our time!

 What is your favorite thing about working at TCPC? 

I love the small “family” feeling of Twin Cities Pain Clinic. Everyone here is very close! If you need help, whether it is work related or not, you know there is someone close by that has your back. 


Thank you for all of your hard work! Twin Cities Pain Clinic appreciates your dedication to patient care!




Joint Injections

Joint Injections: Instant & Long-Term Pain Relief


Injection of pain-relieving medication is a commonly known treatment option for those suffering with back pain. Did you know that other sites such as, shoulder, hip and knee pain can also benefit from an injection? It’s true, knee pain, hip pain, and shoulder pain can all be successfully treated with a joint injection!


How Does It Work?

A joint injection is a procedure used to help treat inflammatory conditions of the hip, shoulder, or knee. A long acting anti-inflammatory medication (steroid) mixed with a local anesthetic (numbing agent) is injected into the joint. The steroid helps to decrease the inflammation that causes swelling which should reduce the pain. These injections may contain various medications; a physician will determine what is appropriate based on your particular condition.


The Procedure

The injection is done by a physician under fluoroscopy (x-ray) or ultrasound. You will be brought into the procedure room and placed in position for the injection. If you are receiving oral or IV sedation, this will be administered prior to the procedure. Your skin will be cleaned at the injection site. The fluoroscope (x-ray machine) or ultrasound will be used to help visualize the needle as it is guided to the appropriate site and the numbing medication mixed with steroid is then injected. After the needle is remove, the site may be covered with a small bandage.

We recommend that you take it easy for the remainder of the day. You may resume normal activities the next day. You may experience tenderness or aggravated symptoms for several days after the injection. You may use ice packs to help with this pain. Patients usually feel relief after a few days; however, it may take 10-14 days to take effect.



Pain relief using join injections is expected to last several months or longer. If needed, the injections may be repeated a few times during the year. Although the injections do not change the underlying condition, they can break the cycle of pain and inflammation and allow time for exercise or physical therapy to strengthen muscles and get the joint moving again in order to decrease ongoing problems. This innovative procedure promotes healing and the potential for permanent improvement.


Learn more about Bursa Injections, Epidural Steroid Injections, Sympathetic Nerve Blocks, and Radiofrequency Neurotomy for the treatment of pain. 

Twin Cities Pain Clinic Welcomes Two New Providers

Please join the Twin Cities Pain Clinic in Welcoming our Newest Providers!



Tiffany McIntyre, CNP

Tiffany McIntyre will be joining the Woodbury clinic as a Certified Nurse Practitioner! Tiffany offers her patients a comprehensive and multidimensional approach to treating chronic pain. In her spare time, she enjoys golfing, fishing, walking/running, gardening and of course playing with her dog, Margo, and cat, Buckminster!





Brian Kasel, PA-C

Brian Kasel has joined the Edina clinic as a Certified Physician Assistant. Brian’s clinical interests include chronic pain management, primary care and preventative medicine. Outside of work He enjoys spending time with his wife and their dog, Popcorn! His hobbies also include tennis, ultimate frisbee, snowboarding and home improvement!



Welcome to the Twin Cities Pain Clinic team!

How Smoking Affects Your Chronic Pain

Short-term relief from nicotine brings long-term problems.

It is no secret that smoking can wreak havoc on your health, but did you know that this bad habit may have a surprising connection with your back pain? In many recent studies, smokers seem to be more likely than nonsmokers to suffer with sore backs. This trend holds true for men and women, manual laborers and white-collar workers. These investigations raise many new questions about the root causes of pain. It also gives smokers a new motivation to pursue a healthy and pain-free lifestyle by “putting out” their old habit. (2)

According to many pain management specialists, smoking and nicotine use may worsen your pain over time. Did you know, smokers are nearly three times as likely to get lower back pain? About 18 percent of people in the United States are smokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet smokers make up more than 50 percent of patients who seek pain treatment. (1)


Smoking is more than a bad habit.

The nicotine in tobacco can trick the body into feeling good – at first. It triggers the release of chemicals, like dopamine, which give off a satisfying, “reward” sensation. It’s what makes smoking so addictive.

But that same tobacco also impairs the delivery of oxygen-rich blood to bones and tissues. Decreasing blood and nutrient flow can cause degeneration, particularly in discs of the spine, which already have more limited blood flow. The result can be lower back pain and sometimes osteoporosis.

Physicians also link smoking with fatigue and slower healing, factors that make painful conditions more prominent. Researchers are exploring even more physiological reasons why smoking makes people with fibromyalgia, arthritis and other chronic pain hurt more. (1)


Quit Today

Giving up cigarettes will dramatically lower the risk of serious conditions such as heart disease and cancer. Kicking the bad habit may also help diminish your back pain!

Twin Cities Pain Clinic has some suggestions on how to help you quit smoking:

·        Schedule your “quit day”

·        Ask your doctor about medication or nicotine replacement products.

·        Get support from family and friends, or join a support group.

·        Avoid alcohol and other triggers

·        Take a walk whenever you feel the urge to smoke.


Our bodies are made up of many remarkable systems. When we make healthy lifestyle choices, it has the opportunity to run like a well-oiled machine. Smoking cessation, healthy diet, and exercise are all decisions that will help you live your life with less pain! 







(1.) https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2017/08/why-smoking-will-worsen-your-chronic-pain/

(2.) https://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/back-care-6/backache-news-53/back-pain-and-smoking-645336.html

Palmer, K.T. et al. Smoking and musculoskeletal disorders: Findings from a British national survey. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. January 2003. 62: 33-36.

Goldberg, M.S. et al. A review of the association between cigarette smoking and the development of nonspecific back pain and related outcomes. Vol.25 (8): 995-1014.

Deyo, R.A. and J.N. Weinstein. Primary care: Low back pain. New England Journal of Medicine. Vol. 344 (5) 363-370.

Mikkonen, P, et al. Is smoking a risk factor for lower back pain in adolescents? A prospective cohort study. Spine. March 1, 2008; 33(5): 527-32.