A comprehensive pain management center, also known as a pain clinic, provides multidisciplinary ways to treat pain. A pain management clinic focuses on the management and diagnosis of chronic pain, and patients might undergo chiropractic, psychological and medical treatments in addition to physical therapy. Pain clinics differ in their services and treatment focus, but the majority of them involve a full team of health care providers with various strategies and methods for managing pain.
Health care providers manage chronic pain medically, psychologically or through alternative therapy. Medical professionals approach chronic pain management by treating it with the following methods:
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is an external device that sends electrical impulses through the skin and into the muscles. A TENS unit helps alleviate pain, but it can't cure the problem.
- A nerve block eliminates the pain through a numbing agent, anti-inflammatory medication or steroid. Nerve blocks can relieve pain anywhere from a couple of hours to years, depending on the source of pain and the number of times the treatment is used.
- Opiate-derived medications are narcotics that alter the perception of pain through receptors in the brain. Opiates typically come in the form of an oral medication that is taken about every four to six hours.
- Surgical procedures may include spinal cord stimulation or radiofrequency ablation.
Alternative treatments may include a variety of methods, such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, yoga, exercise or herbal remedies. A chiropractor helps with an array of physical ailments, including chronic back pain, headaches and arthritis. Acupuncture, although occasionally used as management for chronic pain, is typically used to treat mild acute pain.
Psychological treatments typically relieve the source of pain, as opposed to the pain itself. Psychological methods may include hypnosis and individual counseling sessions that are beneficial in helping to get to the cause of the pain as well as preventing depression, stress and anxiety.