Chronic pain can hamper a person's quality of life, affect jobs and family relationships, and hinder the ability to perform daily activities. Effective pain management can make extreme discomfort tolerable, and in some cases, virtually eliminate it. When choosing a pain management clinic, it is important that you find a center with doctors you trust and to whom you feel comfortable talking to about your symptoms. Board certified anesthesiologists are usually the best types of pain management doctors. In addition to prescribing medications, they are also able to perform and analyze a number of tests and procedures that may be needed in order to reduce, or eliminate, pain.
Before scheduling your first appointment with a pain management clinic, you should follow any guidelines provided by your health insurance company, if you are insured. Check the policy to see if a doctor's referral is needed prior to visiting a pain management clinic or other type of specialist. If so, it is best to ask your treating physician to recommend and refer someone that he or she knows and trusts.
When making your appointment with a pain management clinic, ask about any co-payments or fees that may become due for the initial consultation as well as for ongoing treatment. During your first visit, it is also a good idea to ask the doctor about his or her philosophy regarding the treatment of pain. If you desire progressive treatment methods, you will probably not be happy with a physician that is more of a traditionalist. It is also wise to seek a pain management clinic with extensive experience treating conditions similar to yours. For example, some doctors specialize in sports injuries and muscular pain, whereas others may prefer healing patients with neuropathic pain conditions.
Depending on the source of your discomfort, specialists in this area of medicine may recommend a series of tests, such as computerized axial tomography (CAT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) or other types of diagnostic tests. Some doctors have offices located within a community hospital, and others have high-tech imaging machines available in their offices, making diagnostic testing convenient for the patient. Once the results reveal the source of the pain or extent of the injury that is causing discomfort, steroidal injections, sympathetic nerve blocks or other treatments may be advised. Usually, it is the anesthesiologist who performs those procedures.
Each pain management clinic may offer a different set of services or specialties. In some cases, clinical professionals will refer patients elsewhere to have the tests conducted and do not perform any procedures in their offices. They are usually able to prescribe and monitor pain medications, however.
At these facilities, monthly visits are often required in order to obtain prescriptions. Some of these pain clinics do not accept insurance, so the out-of-pocket expense can get costly. For this reason, it is usually advisable to seek a pain management clinic that works to heal the underlying cause of the pain in addition to controlling symptoms.