Pain Clinics Overview
Strategies for Pain Relief and Management continued...
Physical and aquatic therapy. A physiatrist (doctor specializing in rehabilitation medicine) or physical therapist may prescribe a specially tailored exercise program to increase function and decrease pain. Other physical therapy options at pain clinics may include whirlpool therapy, ultrasound, and deep-muscle massage.
Electrical stimulation. The most common form of electrical stimulation used in pain management is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), a technique that uses a small, battery-operated device to stimulate nerve fibers through the skin.
Acupuncture. This ancient Chinese practice involves inserting very thin needles at specific points on the skin to relieve pain.
Psychological support and counseling. Although pain is a physical sensation, many people in pain suffer emotionally with feelings of anger, sadness, and hopelessness. Dealing with unrelenting pain can affect your ability to hold a job, maintain a home, meet family obligations, and relate to friends and family members. Psychological support, along with medical treatment, can help you manage your condition.
Relaxation techniques. In addition to counseling, mental health professionals can teach you self-help techniques such as relaxation training or biofeedback to reduce stress and relieve pain.
Surgery. Although sometimes surgery is clearly necessary to relieve a problem that is causing pain, it is often a treatment of last resort. If pain has not responded to any other treatment, surgery on certain nerves may offer relief and allow you to resume normal activities.
How to Find a Good Pain Clinic
If you decide you want to try a pain clinic, your doctor should be able to refer you to one that offers services to help your specific pain problem. If your doctor cannot help you, try the following:
Your local hospital. Ask your local hospital or medical center if they have or are affiliated with a pain treatment center. If the hospital does not have one, ask to speak with their department of anesthesiology, which may have doctors on staff who can refer you to a different hospital.
Medical school. Contact your nearest medical school, which is probably affiliated with a private or state university.
Organizations. Organizations that support pain research and/or advocate for pain patients may be able to help. One to try: the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).
Because there are many forms of pain treatment and not all centers offer the same services, it's important to do your homework before you consent to treatment. Find out what types of pain therapies are offered, what the specialists' credentials are, and if they have successfully helped others with your type of pain.
When checking out a pain clinic, schedule an appointment to meet with the team. If you feel comfortable with them, it will be much easier for you to make progress. Asking yourself the following questions can also help you determine if a pain clinic is right for you.
- Does the staff treat me with compassion and respect?
- Does the clinic share my beliefs and goals for treatment?
- Does it develop treatment plans based on individual needs?
- Does it involve me in designing treatment?
- Does it involve my family in treatment goals?
- Will my health care team communicate frequently with one another?
- Will my health care team communicate frequently and effectively with me, my family, and my primary physician?
- Does the clinic monitor my progress?
- Does the clinic have formal follow-up with patients?