Chronic pain is a big problem in the United States with more than 100 million people struggling with the condition (according to WebMD). If you are one of these individuals, you will be well aware of the fact that chronic pain does not always have an apparent cause. So, while chronic pain is often a symptom of another obvious condition, in some cases it can be difficult to determine the cause.
When traditional methods of treating an individual’s pain do not seem to be working, a doctor might refer that person to a pain clinic for further investigation and a whole-person approach to treatment.
What to Expect at Your First Appointment
The experts at Kindly MD explain that pain clinics are staffed by a team of medical professionals, including fully accredited pain management doctors as well as nurses and administrative staff who can help with the management of pain.
When you visit a pain clinic for the first time, you are likely to have an initial consultation. This appointment will give the pain team the chance to find out more about you. It is likely to be a friendly chat where the doctor will ask things like:
- which areas of your body are affected by pain
- how long you have been experiencing the pain
- how the pain has been affecting your everyday life
- what your diet is like
- what exercise you do
- how you are sleeping
- do you have support at home
- how you are currently managing your pain
- do you have any other health problems
- do you take any medications
- have you been given a diagnosis.
Pain doctors might also give you a physical examination during the first visit to find out more about your pain. The doctor might place light pressure on certain parts of your body that are affected by pain, or they may move your body to see how painful it is. The pain doctor will also check for any other symptoms or swelling that may be causing the pain.
What Type of Treatment Do Pain Doctors Provide?
The pain team will typically devise a whole-person treatment plan that will address your mind and body. The goal of the team is to help you manage your pain and increase your level of functioning. Instead of just treating the pain, they will try to find ways to get to the root of the problem. As such, they will utilize a range of therapies which might include medication but will also include lifestyle changes as well as complimentary therapies such as yoga, acupuncture, acupressure physiotherapy, and talking therapy.
The good thing about pain clinics is that they tailor plans specifically for the individual patient. If medication has not previously worked for that patient, the physician may prescribe a different medication or will try a completely different approach. Sometimes pain relief injections are provided, which can be more concentrated and therefore more effective in managing pain.
Physiotherapy is also useful for those with chronic pain. Many people avoid moving parts of the body that cause them pain, but this can then lead to more pain as the muscles become stiff and weak. Physiotherapists can show patients how to strengthen these muscles and move their body without risking additional pain.
A referral to a pain clinic can be scary for many people because they do not know what to expect. Such a referral is typically made when there is no obvious reason for a person’s pain or when they are not responding to traditional treatments. Pain doctors use a whole-person approach to treating pain using a combination of medication and other therapies.