More than 50 million Americans are known to be victims of chronic pain and new treatment methods are being developed for pain management. However, it has been seen that a majority of the sufferers are undertreated and more than 75 percent of the victims do not receive treatment required for effective management of pain. Pain sometimes reduces promptly when the underlying injury has been treated and it heals.
Analgesics are generally prescribed by doctors for treating pain. However, pain management clinics offer an opportunity for treating those sufferers who experience a slowdown in recovery because of persistent pain and for whom the progress to good health is slower than what was expected due to presence of chronic pain. In these institutions, a multidisciplinary approach is taken to treat pain.
Pain management clinics focus both on the correct diagnosis and management of chronic pain. However, there are different types of clinics: some of them cater to pain in specific parts of the body whereas others cater to specific diagnoses. Typically, a pain management team functions in a pain management clinic, consisting of specialists from many disciplines such as medical doctors, clinical psychologists, mental health specialists, massage specialists, physiotherapists, nursing specialists, occupational therapists, etc. They together, create a package to suit individual requirements and free the patients from chronic pain.
Treatment methods in pain management clinics include the use of medicines, interventional procedures, psychological approaches (cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, etc.), and application of heat, among others. Medications used in these clinics include analgesics, anxiolytics, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, etc. Interventional procedures include injections to alleviate joint pains, steroid injections (epidural), spinal cord stimulators, or drug delivery implants.
Physical approach in pain management clinics is accomplished through a variety of techniques icluding electrotherapy and thermal agents. These techniques are used in conjunction with medications and interventional techniques. TENS (trans-cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) is used for alleviation of diabetic neuropathy. Acupuncture (insertion of needles into specific points in the body and their manipulation) is seen to relieve chronic pains of certain types effectively. Laser therapy is used for the treatment of lower back pain.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been observed to work positively in the management of chronic pain. This approach helps people to understand the connection between the pain that they experience and their thoughts and emotions. Certain scientific studies have indicated that CBT is effective in alleviating pain and altering moods and patients will be able to maintain the benefits for a period of at least six months. Hypnosis is another technique that is used in pain management for adolescents and children. It has been observed to reduce pain when compared to certain other interventions.
If an affected individual wants to get treated through such a facility, the consulting medical specialist is likely to refer him/her to a suitable pain clinic. A list of pain management clinics may be available with the local hospital or the medical school, if there is one nearby. It is important for the patient to do a proper study through references and other sources about the facilities and services available in the pain clinic and the credentials of the specialists in the clinic before opting to enroll in the institution and using their services. It is also important to find out if the clinic provides after-care services for monitoring progress and whether it offers regular follow-up sessions with the patients.