Living with Chronic Pain

Tips for Building a Quality Interdisciplinary Pain Management Team


Pain management specialists treat chronic pain conditions with the goal of reducing or eliminating pain. Although it is crucial to find a good pain management specialist, more than one health care professional is usually needed to properly manage pain.

What is an interdisciplinary pain management team?

Interdisciplinary pain management involves a team of health care professionals who specialize in different aspects of care. Members of an interdisciplinary pain management team range from nurses, physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, psychologists to social workers. They use various strategies, interventions, and measures that are designed to provide a complete pain management program. Communication, assessment, education, treatment, and follow-up are important aspects of a pain management team.

An effective pain management team divides tasks and responsibilities to provide a well-balanced approach. They each have certain roles that complement each other. A pain management team is only effective when the team’s approach and the individual work together.

Building a quality interdisciplinary pain management team

A quality pain management team helps an individual restore physical functioning, improve quality of life, and teaches mental, emotional and physical coping skills.

Tips to help build a high quality management team include the following:

  • Begin with a primary care physician. A trusted primary care physician who is familiar with the individual’s chronic pain condition can provide referrals to qualified pain specialists.
  • Join a local pain support group. Talking with others about their experiences with different health care professionals can help in the search for qualified specialists.
  • Do research. It is important to find health care professionals with extensive training. Be sure all members of a pain management team have specialized training and are board certified in pain management.
  • Find a pain clinic with various types of pain specialists and treatments. It is important to ascertain the types of pain specialists, therapies and treatments a pain clinic offers before committing to a certain clinic. Choosing a pain clinic with various types of specialists and treatments provided in the same setting prevents the need to travel to different locations for specialist appointments.
  • Prioritize comfort. Each member of a pain management team should be a good fit with the individual with chronic pain. It is hard to make the most of each visit if not comfortable with the health care professional.
  • Find out the outcomes of programs. Success rates in the treatment of chronic pain are critical in finding the right pain management team. Each specialist should share what their success rate is.
  • Check the location. Dealing with chronic pain can be exhausting. It is important to find a pain management team that is not only high quality but also in a location that is attainable. Extended traveling time can increase chronic pain.
  • Look for interdisciplinary clinics. These are one-stop shops consisting of a team of health care professionals that work together.


The following things should also be remembered when building a pain management team:

  • All the team members should have the same goals.
  • The team should develop treatments that are based on the needs of the individual.
  • The team should have excellent communication and mutual respect.
  • The individual’s progress should be carefully monitored.
  • The team should keep the individual well informed.

A quick fix to eliminate pain rarely works. Remember, a high quality pain management team focuses on the whole person, not just the pain.

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