Pain Management

UC San Diego Health offers the most advanced pain treatment options available in a compassionate and supportive environment.

Whether your pain is caused by arthritis, fibromyalgia, sciatica, neuropathy, another condition or an unknown cause, we have pain specialists who can help reduce or eliminate your pain.

Before You Can Schedule an Appointment

To be seen at our clinic, you must get a referral from another physician. Self-referral is not allowed.

Center of Excellence

UC San Diego Health is recognized as a Clinical Center of Excellence in Pain Management by the American Pain Society. This is the highest recognition possible in pain management. You have come to the right place for comprehensive, expert care for pain.

When to See a Pain Specialist

If you have chronic pain, you should first talk to your primary care physician about your condition. If you don't respond to standard treatment approaches, such as analgesics, steroid injections and physical therapy, you can ask your physician for a referral to a pain specialist. You cannot self-refer to our clinic.

Comprehensive Approach

Chronic pain can have a profound influence on your physical, mental and spiritual well-being and often chronic pain exists without an obvious root biological cause. Because of this, we employ a multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary approach to pain management. This means your care team may include medical specialists from diverse fields, who together comprehensively address your pain issues. 

Personalized Care Plan

Your care plan is tailored to your specific situation and needs. Whenever possible your care team will use conservative approaches and emphasize healthy living as a cornerstone of your personalized care plan. Most of our patients are encouraged to exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and maintain or attain mental well-being.

Complementary or Alternative Medicine 

For some individuals, alternative medicine can provide some pain relief.  We offer:

  • Acupressure
  • Osteopathic manipulation
  • Referral to UC San Diego Health's mindfulness training and stress reduction programs

Medications for Pain

Chronic pain can be exacerbated by anxiety and can also interfere with sleep. For these reasons, your treatment plan may include: 

  • Anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications
  • Sleep medications
  • Medical marijuana

Opioid use is discouraged or minimized in most but not all situations. 


We offer many types of fluoroscopy and image-guided injections to alleviate or block pain, including:

  • Steroid injections
  • Epidurals for nerve root compression
  • Nerve blocks
  • Ultrasound-guided injections for musculoskeletal pain
  • Botulinum toxin injections 
  • Hyaluronic joint injections
  • Regenerative medicine injections

Nerve Ablations / Denervation

If your pain persists, nerve ablations may provide relief. We offer:

  • High-temperature or pulsed radio-frequency nerve ablations
  • Basivertebral nerve ablation for certain types of chronic low back pain

Implantable Therapies

If you have severe pain, you may be a candidate for an implantable therapy, including:

  • Intrathecal “pain” pump, in which medications are delivered directly to the spinal cord
  • Spinal cord stimulation implant, which use electrical currents to control or relieve pain
  • Intrathecal baclofen (a muscle relaxer) for severe spasticity
  • Dorsal root ganglion (DRG) stimulation implant for lower limb pain

Candidates for these more invasive procedures are carefully screened.

Pre-Operative Pain Consults

For patients with chronic pain or a previous history of postoperative pain, we offer pre-surgical pain consults. These services require a referral from your UC San Diego Health surgeon.