Frequently Asked Questions
- What are the first steps to managing pain?
The initial steps to alleviating or abating pain are to find a pain management physician that works with you to alleviate your pain; a physician that will listen to your pain complaints and spend the requisite amount of time with you to discover the causes of your discomfort. Research your options, but remain open-minded about the realities of pain. The experience of your pain management physician will help lay out the path of optimum care. The pain management specialists at University Hospitals understand that pain is a very personal journey, therefore our pain management programs are designed to conform to individual needs.
- What should I expect after being referred to a pain management specialist?
After you have been referred for Pain Management by your primary care physician, your care team will first take a complete medical history. This information can help disclose underlying conditions—acute or chronic—that may be triggering or exacerbating the pain. It is also important information to be considered when planning the course of treatment for optimal outcome. Remember, too, that your pain management physician is not a substitute for your primary care physician. We encourage you to continue with your primary care physician for comprehensive healthcare during your course of pain management therapy.
When the condition has been diagnosed as specifically as medical science will allow, the therapeutic path can then be formulated.
- What are my treatment options?
Relaxation / Biofeedback
Some pain is controllable without the use of medication or neuro-mechanical intervention. Pain is addressed first by considering the least invasive method of control. Techniques can include working with a qualified healthcare specialist on methods of relaxation therapy, biofeedback, stress management and self-hypnosis techniques. Once learned, some of these therapies can be utilized by the patients to control the pain without other medical intervention.
If pain originates in a muscle or muscle group, the patient may be referred to a physical therapist for evaluation. Muscle, ligament and tendon involvement may exhibit an accompanying pain with weakness, tightness or aberrant movement pattern. Physical therapists can then evaluate if a personal rehabilitation program can alleviate the pain.
Pain and the resulting secondary symptoms and conditions that it triggers can sometimes be addressed through pharmacologic management. In addition to abating or eliminating the pain at hand, pharmacologic management may also be helpful in reducing secondary symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disturbances, fear, anger and depression. Medications may be oral, intramuscularly-injected (IM), or injected at the site of pain to block specific nerve pathways.
Other approaches that may be used with or without medication therapy include radiofrequency neuroblation (radio waves are used to interrupt nerve pain impulses), spinal cord stimulators (which deliver low levels of energy directly to nerve fibers) or implantable morphine infusion pumps.