Learning About Pain Clinics

Approximately 50 million Americans currently live with chronic pain. If you are one of them, living the life you want to live may seem impossible. But there is hope. If you haven’t been able to get relief, consider visiting a pain clinic.

A pain clinic is a facility for diagnosing and managing chronic pain. Some clinics specialize in specific diagnoses or pain in certain areas. Most pain clinics take a multidisciplinary approach to help people manage pain and regain control of their lives. These clinics treat the whole person not just pain.

While different pain clinics may have different focuses, most have teams of health & education providers ready to provide you tools and strategies for managing your pain.

They may have doctors who specialize in different areas, along with non-physician specialists, including psychologists, physical therapists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and other specialists. These people will work together to create a pain management plan.

The specialist at a pain clinic will tailor a plan to your individual needs, preferences, and circumstances. Treatment options may include:

  • Medications such as non-aspirin pain relievers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, opioids such as morphine, or antidepressants.
  • Local anesthetic sometimes in conjunction with a corticosteroid.  These may be injected into a muscle, or near a nerve in the form of a nerve block.
  • Physical Therapy can restore strength and flexibility and can decrease pain in some patients.
  • Hydrotherapy such as whirlpool or other water-based therapy can sometimes offer relief.
  • Massage can help to relieve tension that can exacerbate pain.
  • Electrical Stimulation can stimulate the nerves and offer relief.
  • Acupuncture or Acupressure uses fine needles or external pressure to stimulate certain areas.
  • Counseling and Psychological Therapy can help patients manage some of the effects of pain on other parts of their lives.
  • Relaxation, Meditation, or Biofeedback can help the patient learn to manage the tension that is both caused by the pain and, in turn, aggravates pain.
  • Surgery is a last resort option for patients who have not found relief with other treatments.

If you think a pain clinic might be able to help you, talk to your doctor for a referral. If your doctor is unable to help, you can contact your local hospital, the nearest medical school, or an organization, such as the American Society of Anesthesiologists, that supports pain research.

Not all pain clinics offer the same types of treatment, so you should do a little research before agreeing to treatment. Schedule an appointment with the clinic. Ask what type of therapies are offered, what types of specialists are available, and whether they have helped others with the same type of pain. Finally, ask yourself if you feel comfortable with the team and the answers you received. If you are not comfortable with the clinic, you will have a harder time making progress.

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