Who could benefit from a pain management center? It is estimated that anywhere from 11 to 40 percent of the adult population in the US struggles with chronic pain, which has been linked to a severe drop in mobility, dependence on opioids, depressive and anxious thoughts, co-occurring health issues, and reduced quality of life. The NIH estimates that 1 in 10 Americans experiences “a lot of pain” at any given moment and that at least 50 million Americans qualify for a chronic pain condition.
When all you know and feel is discomfort and agony, life becomes much harder to live – and even simple tasks feel insurmountable. Pain management is about helping patients with debilitating or chronic pain issues live a pain-free life or experience a far superior quality of life.
What is a Pain Management Center?
A pain management center is a clinic or healthcare facility specializing in identifying, diagnosing, and treating pain conditions, which are health conditions where chronic or debilitating pain is a primary or secondary characteristic.
Pain management plays a central role in the treatment of countless chronic conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia and progressive and terminal illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and cancer. These are just some diagnoses that may require referral to a pain specialist or pain management center.
Pain management centers or pain clinics employ doctors with a variety of specializations, from neurology to osteopathy, and other medical personnel such as physical therapists, nurses, counselors, psychologists, and dietitians.
While each professional will have a specialization of their own, all pain management personnel work closely together to focus on identifying and treating causes of pain and efficiently reducing pain without long-term consequences through physical, psychological, and pharmacological interventions alike.
Pain management clinics are typically outpatient facilities where patients receive treatment regularly or engage in therapy. Some pain management clinics may offer hospitalization or inpatient treatment and may double as rehabilitation centers for severe injuries and conditions that require long-term occupational and physical therapy.
Understanding Pain Management
Where other healthcare providers and medical facilities focus on treating an illness, pain management may also involve focusing on pain reduction in cases of an incurable or progressive condition. Pain management centers offer patients the option of seeking a better quality of life, for conditions that are simply addressing the cause might not be enough to reduce pain and distress.
Treating pain is important. When their discomfort is effectively addressed, patients heal better, recover faster, and are more emotionally stable when their pain is addressed and treated. Pain reduction can even affect a patient’s psychiatric health, seriously impacting mood disorders such as major depressive disorder.
Multifaceted and Individualized Treatment
But pain management needs to be multifaceted and individualized. One of the biggest medical mistakes in recent history is the over-prescription of opioid painkillers in the 1990s, contributing to an unprecedented opioid crisis that persists today. At the time, a lack of evidence led the medical community to believe that newer opioids had lower abuse potential, which wasn’t true.
Modern pain management considers the dangers and consequences of opioid dependence, focusing on non-opioid pharmacology and alternative treatments, from physical and psychiatric therapy to individualized dietary planning and non-invasive interventions for neuropathic and inflammatory pain.
Pain management centers rely on the experience of multiple different specializing professionals to form comprehensive treatment plans for every patient.
Pain Specialists and Chronic Pain
When you’re looking for a pain management clinic that might suit your needs, it’s important to make sure that the personnel of your prospective clinic has experience working with cases like yours. Any pain management clinic will be host to several specialists working together. Common specializations represented in a pain management setting include:
- Orthopedic surgery
- Physical therapy
- And more
It’s a good idea to ask about your condition and whether the specialists at the clinic have had much success treating other patients with similar circumstances and the same diagnosis. Pain specialists come from different backgrounds and may not have worked primarily in pain management, so their experience working with chronic pain conditions and certain progressive illnesses may be limited.
What to Look for in a Pain Management Center
Pain management clinics may specialize in treating certain types of pain over others or have developed a reputation for taking on certain conditions. Some clinics specialize in cancer-related pain, while others focus on neuropathy and back pain.
Pain covers a vast spectrum of causes, syndromes, and conditions, so begin by narrowing your choices down to centers that might specialize in what you have.
Chronic Pain Experts
Pain management centers specialize in reducing pain, not necessarily in eliminating it. Not all pain can be shut-off safely, and it may still come back even when it can. The goal of any pain management center is ultimate to improve quality of life through comprehensive pain reduction, effective physical and mental coping mechanisms, and an individualized treatment plan.
Contact PMIR for more information.