Pain management programs can serve patients' needs on either an inpatient or an outpatient basis. Both types of programs have health care professionals on staff from different disciplines to offer comprehensive treatment to patients living with chronic pain. The decision about whether to seek treatment at a clinic where the patient would be admitted for a time would depend on his or her level of pain, if he or she is also dealing with addiction issues and his or her financial resources to cover treatment costs.
Chronic pain can be caused by illness or an injury which continues to cause discomfort after the acute phase has appeared to have resolved. The approach taken by pain management programs is to focus on the patient as a whole person and not simply the pain he or she is experiencing. The goal is to help the patient learn to manage his or her pain and learn how to live as well as possible
The team caring for a patient living with chronic pain will include one or more doctors, as well as nurses and nurse practitioners. A psychologist may provide counseling and support to the patient. Other specialists, such as occupational therapists, physical therapists and nutritionists, offer their expertise as needed. Since medication is part of the treatment available from pain management programs, a pharmacist will be available to answer questions from patients and staff members about dosage and how to use the drugs to get the most benefit from them.
Outpatient pain management programs may be located in a hospital facility or as stand-alone clinics. Patients may be seen there for a series of appointments to assess their current health and to determine what kinds of challenges they are facing because of their chronic pain. The doctor at the pain clinic can refer the patient to the other members of the team as needed to help the patient understand his or her pain and develop an appropriate treatment plan to increase his or her ability to function on a daily basis.
Residential clinics offer highly personalized health care services to people in pain. The patient checks in to be treated for a time and all of his or her attention can be devoted to learning how to manage pain. This is a more expensive option, but these types of pain management programs have the expertise necessary to treat addiction to pain medications while respecting that the patient still needs to have his or her existing pain levels monitored and treated.