Desert Pain Specialists bring Intracept, a breakthrough in chronic back pain relief, to Southern Utah

Stock image | Photo by Filip_Krstic/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Southern Utahns living with persistent and debilitating back pain may at last find relief thanks to a revolutionary new procedure: Intracept. 

A treatment room with a view at Desert Pain Specialists, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Jeff Hauck courtesy of Desert Pain Specialists, St. George News

Intracept signals a breakthrough for patients experiencing chronic low back pain stemming from the vertebrae. Only a handful of medical professionals nationwide are trained to perform the outpatient procedure. In Southern Utah, Desert Pain Specialists is the only pain clinic with 100% of its physicians trained and certified in the procedure.

“Previously, there was no way to treat that type of pain. This new procedure has opened up an avenue,” said Dr. Ryan Workman, interventional pain management specialist at Desert Pain’s Cedar City clinic. “It’s not something that has been done previously in Southern Utah, so we’re really excited to be able to offer this to our patients here.”  

Intracept is a minimally invasive procedure approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of chronic low back pain in patients over age 18 who haven’t responded to prior interventional or surgical pain relief methods. Many people with degenerative disc disease are candidates for the procedure, Workman said.  

The procedure is designed specifically for patients whose pain is vertebrogenic, meaning it originates from the bones in the spine. This type of pain causes discomfort while sitting, standing and occasionally at rest. Patients have difficulty performing daily activities and suffer from limited mobility as a result of their pain. Physicians use an MRI of the spine to determine whether Intracept is the right procedure for treating that patient’s pain.

During the Intracept procedure, the physician accesses the nerves within the vertebrae of the lower back. Using a radiofrequency probe, they heat up the nerves and ablate the pain signals that come from those nerves. The end goal is disabling the connection so pain signals from this area can no longer be received and felt by the patient. Intracept preserves the structure of the spine. 

A treatment room with a view at Desert Pain Specialists, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Jeff Hauck courtesy of Desert Pain Specialists, St. George News

Workman said that studies on Intracept began approximately five years ago, and the initial results have been very encouraging. 

“Clinical trials have shown that this may be a permanent treatment for that type of bone pain,” he said. “The pain sources in these nerves don’t appear to grow back per the data we have so far.” 

Intracept is an outpatient procedure performed by a Desert Pain physician at ambulatory surgical centers in either St. George or Cedar City. The procedure lasts approximately 60 minutes, and patients may return home a couple of hours afterward. 

Most people experience post-procedural soreness lasting a few days, Workman said. Patients typically start to notice improvement in their back pain one to two weeks after undergoing Intracept. 

“It’s been demonstrated to have a very high safety record,” he said. “Studies show patients experience very few side effects as a result of this procedure.” 

The physicians at Desert Pain, all of whom are board-certified anesthesiologists with fellowship training in pain management, underwent an intensive combination of classroom and hands-on proctored training to become certified to perform Intracept. 

(L-R) Dr. Spencer Wells, Dr. Court Empey, Dr. Rachel Allen and Dr. Ryan Workman of Desert Pain Specialists, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Desert Pain Specialists, St. George News

Desert Pain is a team of highly skilled physicians seeking to improve quality of life for the Southern Utah community through innovative pain management solutions. Across seven locations, they provide a comprehensive array of therapies to alleviate migraines, neck pain, back pain and chronic pain – from radiofrequency ablation and nerve blocks to steroid injections and lidocaine infusions.

Along with a support staff of eight physician assistants and nurse practitioners, they are willing to spend as much time with each patient as necessary in order for them to feel comfortable. 

Workman encourages anyone interested in learning more about Intracept and other interventional pain management solutions to reach out. Desert Pain is open Monday through Friday and can book most patients for same-day or next-day consultations. 

“We pride ourselves on being able to see patients at their convenience and getting them treated as quickly as possible,” he said. 

Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.

• S P O N S O R E D   C O N T E N T • 


  • Desert Pain Specialists | Telephone: 435-216-7000 | Email: [email protected] | Website.
  • Locations:
    • St. George: 617 E. Riverside Drive, Suite 301.
    • Hurricane: 48 S. 2500 West, Suite 110.
    • Cedar City: 1760 N. Main St.
    • Beaver: 68 N. Main St.
    • Panguitch: 200 N. 400 East.
    • Kanab: 460 E. 300 South, Suite 4.
    • Mesquite, Nevada: 340 Falcon Ridge Parkway, Suite 600.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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