Pain Clinics: What to Know

At least 100 million Americans and more than 1.5 billion people worldwide live with chronic pain.

Most Americans with it say it's tough for them to sleep well at night and concentrate during the day. They also say it affects their energy levels and their enjoyment of life.

If pain is regular part of your life, a pain clinic may be able to help you.

What Is a Pain Clinic?

Also called pain management clinics, they're health care facilities that focus on the diagnosis and management of chronic pain. There are two kinds. One focuses on procedures to deal with specific types of pain, like neck and back pain.

The other, sometimes called an interdisciplinary clinic, takes an approach that looks at the whole person.

Often, your team may include:

  • Nurses and doctors
  • Psychologists
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational and vocational therapists
  • Nutritionists and dietitians

In addition to medications, these clinics can help you manage pain with physical, behavioral, and psychological therapies.

They also may teach you about your pain, coach you on lifestyle changes, and offer complementary or alternative medicine. These can include:

 

What’s the Goal?

It's to cut your pain and raise your quality of life. Treatment at a pain clinic can give you the skills to manage your chronic pain on your own and make you more able to function, possibly so that you may return to work.

Do They Work?

Multiple studies say folks who have comprehensive pain management have less pain and emotional distress. Research says they also can do their daily tasks easier.

How Do I Find a Pain Clinic?

Ask your primary care doctor or specialist for a referral. You can also:

  • Call your local hospital or medical center.
  • Get help from a local pain support group.
  • Search The Center to Advance Palliative Care for a list of providers in each state.

 

Continued

What Should I Look For?

Look for a clinic with a specialist who knows about your kind of pain. Ask if the doctor has had special training and is board certified in pain management.

As with other doctors, you should also try to find someone you feel comfortable with. Your pain management specialist will treat your pain and coordinate other care, including physical therapy, rehabilitation, and counseling.

A good pain program will work with you and your family to create a plan based on your goals. It will monitor your progress and tell you how you’re doing.

What Else Should I Ask?

Be sure to ask what kind of therapies and treatments a clinic offers. You can also see if they organize support groups.

Ask if you can talk to other folks who have had treatment there.

What Should I Avoid?

You should stay away from pain clinics that offer mostly narcotics to treat pain. These medications can be highly addictive. They also can interact with other things you take.

A pain clinic should focus on the person, not the pain.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Lisa Bernstein, MD

Sources

SOURCES:

Institute of Medicine: “Relieving Pain in America, A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research.”

The American Academy of Pain Medicine: “AAPM Facts and Figures on Pain.”

American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine: “The specialty of chronic pain management.”

Arthritis Foundation: “Are Pain Clinics Right for You?”

National Cancer Institute: “Pain Control.”

American Chronic Pain Association: “Pain Management Programs.”

Baylor University Medical Proceedings: “Long-term effectiveness of a comprehensive pain management program: strengthening the case for interdisciplinary care.”

Healthcare (Basel): “Getting 'Unstuck': A Multi-Site Evaluation of the Efficacy of an Interdisciplinary Pain Intervention Program for Chronic Low Back Pain.”

© 2017 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination