UMMS Affiliation

Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Pain Management | Palliative Care | Therapeutics


Pain is a common source of suffering for seriously ill patients. Typical first-line treatments consist of lifestyle modifications and medication therapy, including opioids. However, medical treatments often fail or are associated with limiting systemic toxicities, and more targeted interventional approaches are necessary. Herein, we present options for minimally invasive techniques for the alleviation of pain in palliative patients from a head-to-toe approach, with a focus on emerging therapies and advanced techniques. Head and neck: image-guided interventions targeted to sympathetic ganglia of the head and neck, such as sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) and stellate ganglion, have been shown to be effective for some forms of sympathetically-maintained and visceral pain. Interventions targeting branches of cranial nerves and upper cervical nerves, such as the glossopharyngeal nerve (GPN), are options in treating somatic head and face pain. Abdominal and Pelvic: sympathetic blocks, including celiac plexus, inferior hypogastric, and ganglion impar can relieve visceral abdominal and pelvic pain. Spine and somatic pain: fascial plane blocks of the chest and abdominal wall and myofascial trigger point injections can be used for somatic pain indications. Cementoplasties, such as kyphoplasty and vertebroplasty, are used for pain related to bony metastases and compression fractures. Tumor ablative techniques can also be used for lytic lesions of the bone. Spinal cord stimulation (SCS), intrathecal drug delivery systems (IDDS), and cordotomy have also been used successfully in patients requiring advanced options, such as those with significant spinal, ischemic, or visceral pain.


Palliative care, chronic pain, interventional pain management, radiofrequency ablation

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This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), which permits the non-commercial replication and distribution of the article with the strict proviso that no changes or edits are made and the original work is properly cited (including links to both the formal publication through the relevant DOI and the license). See:

DOI of Published Version



Yalamuru B, Weisbein J, Pearson ACS, Kandil ES. Minimally-invasive pain management techniques in palliative care. Ann Palliat Med. 2021 Aug 16:apm-20-2386. doi: 10.21037/apm-20-2386. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34412500. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Annals of palliative medicine

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.