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What is a Pain Clinic?

By Madeleine A.
Updated May 17, 2024
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Typically, a pain clinic is a location where doctors offer solutions to intractable pain. Conditions that generally respond well to pain clinic services are arthritis, back pain, and cancer. In addition, migraine headaches, shingles pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome pain frequently respond favorably to pain clinic treatments. Many primary care doctors refer their patients to pain clinics when they have exhausted other methods of pain relief.

Generally, pain management that is offered at a pain clinic include a combination of therapies. These treatments include medications, physical therapy, and nerve blocks. In addition, massage therapy is often an effective treatment for pain relief, swelling and stress. Not only does the pain clinic treat acute pain, it also performs diagnostic services to determine where the pain is originating.

Common treatments available in a pain clinic include the intercostal nerve block. This procedure involves the injection of an anti-inflammatory medication and local anesthetic in between the ribs. This procedure is frequently performed for acute pain that is related to shingles, or herpes zoster. This viral infection can cause inflammation of nerve endings that spread out from the spinal area, which can be excruciating.

Another procedure that is performed in a pain clinic is called nucleoplasty. This minimally invasive procedure is done on an outpatient basis and involves the insertion of a transmitter catheter into the disc nucleus. It uses radio waves to minimize tissue volume, reducing pressure and pain on nerve roots. Typically, this procedure brings welcome relief to those suffering with disc herniations. This procedure is often preferred for patients who are not ideal surgical candidates.

Intractable pain refers to pain that is unresponsive to conventional treatment. Pain clinics offer intrathecal drug delivery procedures that involves the insertion of a catheter into the intrathecal space, releasing pain medication directly into the spinal cord. This procedure allows for a smaller amount of pain medication to obtain relief and a reduction in the frequency of side effects. Antispasmotic medications and morphine sulfate can be effectively delivered in this manner.

Frequently, pain management will include neurostimulation. This procedure refers to a surgically implanting a neurostimulation device that sends mild electrically charged impulses to peripheral nerves or spinal cord. The patient does not feel the harmless impulses, and often experiences significant relief from chronic pain. This is an outpatient procedure requiring only minimal recovery time. This procedure can bring about quick relief to patients suffering from disabling back spasms.

Many times, physical therapy services are combined with other treatments when treating severe pain. Physical therapy can improve muscle strength and increase range of motion and mobility. Generally, physical therapy complements and enhances pain management treatment plans and is usually well tolerated by the patient. Pain clinics can offer hope, and sometimes complete resolution of symptoms in the patient experiencing acute and chronic pain.

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