If pain is a constant companion, then a visit to a pain management clinic may be inevitable. Because almost 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, the medical community recently established a specialty in pain management that uses a variety of treatment options to diagnose, mitigate and remediate chronic pain. You may believe that constant pain is merely a part of getting older, but it may only take a visit to a pain clinic to put an end to your suffering.
Pain management physicians do not usually see patients without a referral from a primary care physician, but it is usually easy to get a referral if you suffer from a known pain condition like osteoarthritis or spondylitis. A pain specialist may also prove useful in identifying a mysterious pain condition as well as suggesting novel treatments for a particular pain issue.
If you intend to visit a pain clinic, you probably want to know what the session with the pain management specialist will involve. As with any visit to medical specialist, the doctor will examine you and investigate the medical history provided by your primary care physician. This may not immediately pinpoint the exact cause of your pain, but it should help the pain management doctor eliminate some possibilities and provide a baseline for additional diagnostic evaluation. If no immediate diagnosis is possible, your doctor will probably recommend more tests like X-rays, MRIs or CAT scans.
In addition to a thorough physical evaluation, the pain management specialist will also discuss the specifics of your case with you so that they may develop an understanding of the situation from your perspective. In many ways, pain is a subjective phenomenon—although in most cases, there is an underlying physiological cause—that may be influenced by other, unrelated issues. For example, stress may be an intensifying factor and your pain physician may attempt to analyze how this and other emotional issues amplify pain symptoms.
Another key issue that your clinician will probably ask about is how you responded to other pain management therapies. Although the pain is certainly an ongoing issue, it will help the physician better understand the situation if you explain how you felt after prior treatments involving physical therapy or medications. If you are currently taking any pain relievers, prescription or OTC, please detail how often you take them and how you feel afterwards. The pain management specialist may ask you some personal questions, and, of course you are free to decline answering them, but it is usually in your best interest to be open and honest in your responses.
It is extremely unlikely that the physician will prescribe any medications or recommend any treatments at an initial consultation, but they may do so after a comprehensive evaluation. If the diagnostic tests have identified the cause of the pain, the doctor will offer their prognosis—likelihood and time frame for recovery—and recommend available treatment options. Any visit to a pain clinic is likely to be one of many, as the physician must monitor your progress and adjust the therapy to changing circumstances.
Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care
M.D. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal views of Robert Moghim, M.D. and do not necessarily represent and are not intended to represent the views of the company or its employees.