Chronic pain is, unfortunately, part of many people’s everyday lives and how best to treat it can be challenging. Pain clinics have become more common and have been getting a lot of press but with this comes questions: What exactly is a pain clinic and what do they do there? What types of providers do they have? What can I expect if I go there? How can I be referred to one? We’ll look at these questions as we explore the benefits of using a pain clinic.
What exactly is a Pain Clinic and what do they do there?
Typically pain management clinics are clinics where pain management specialists offer evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of diverse types of pain. Pain encompasses a wide spectrum of disorders, both acute and chronic. Arthritis, back pain, and cancer related pain are common diseases that are treated. Pain can also occur due to a reason like surgery, injury, damage to a nerve, or other medical problems like a migraine and diabetic neuropathy (nerve pain most commonly affecting the feet). At times, pain can arise and no source can be found, which can be frustrating for patients. Pain clinics offer a variety of ways to help treat pain. Oral medications, nerve blocks, spinal injections, and other interventional techniques may be used. The treatment of pain is complex, and the modalities available are rapidly changing; however, pain management providers are trained to use these to effectively help patients.
What types of providers do they have?
Pain management clinics have a physician that has been specially trained in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of all types of pain. Most clinics also have mid-level providers (nurse practitioners and physician assistants) who have also been trained to help manage pain. Some clinics also include physical therapists, massage therapists, and psychologists too.
What can I expect if I go there?
On your first visit, the pain specialist will get to know you and your pain problem. He or she will perform a history and physical exam and review any previous testing. It is important to make sure you either bring or have your previous records sent to the clinic so they can be reviewed. Based on this, an individual plan will be developed to help treat your pain and more testing may be needed too.
How can I be referred to a pain clinic?
The best way to be referred to a pain management specialist is through your primary care provider (PCP). This will ensure effective communication between your PCP and the pain management providers. Patients are also referred by other providers too—back surgeons, neurologists, and cancer doctors when the need arises.
Healthcare is becoming a team effort to ensure patients can live and function well. Pain management clinics are an effective and integral part of the healthcare team to help those who are dealing with pain. If you or a loved one think you may benefit from being seen in a pain management clinic, please speak with your provider about getting referred for an appointment.
Adair County Health System’s Specialty Clinic currently has Central States Pain Clinic visiting monthly. You don’t need to travel to see them, they come to us right here in Adair County.
Tim Piearson, DO
Family Practice Provider
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