Living with Chronic Pain
How to Navigate the Pain Clinic
A pain clinic is a health care resource that concentrates on the diagnosis, management, and treatment of chronic pain. Within many clinics, there are different specialists that focus on different pain types and conditions.
A pain management specialist is a doctor with superior training in the diagnosis and treatment of pain. Pain is comprised of a broad spectrum of disorders including chronic pain, acute pain, and cancer pain. Pain management specialists have a thorough knowledge of pain physiology and a deep understanding of the specific tests used to diagnose pain-related conditions. Proper prescribing of medications and the expertise to carry out procedures (such as spinal injections and nerve blocks) are all components of what a pain management specialist applies to treat pain. For more advanced procedures, pain clinics often have anesthesiologists and other experts to support the patient.
Your first visit to a pain management specialist will begin with a detailed evaluation of your pain history. With a thorough understanding of your medical history, a pain specialist may perform a routine physical examination and ask for more detailed information regarding pain symptoms, treatment history, and impact on activities of daily living.
During your first visit, ask your pain management specialist about: 1) diet and nutritional recommendations; 2) a psychological assessment; 3) thermographic imaging to assess circulation; 4) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to detail the body's internal structure; and 5) computerized tomography (CT) to show a detailed view of internal organs.
If you are scheduled to undergo a procedure on your first visit, be mindful that you may need a driver to take you home.
No matter what form of pain you have, you should expect to have a clearer understanding of your pain after this first visit, as well as the course of treatment that will meet the needs of your diagnosis.