Pain Management FAQs and Answers

What is pain management?

Pain management involves a multidisciplinary approach including physicians, nurses, psychologists, and ancillary team members utilizing all aspects of medical care to diagnose and to treat virtually any painful condition.

Do you specialize in certain areas of pain care?

While we treat all types of pain, we generally see patients with spine associated pain, joint pain, nerve pain, or pain occurring in the setting of cancer.

What innovations have occurred in pain management care that would make me consider seeking this treatment?

Pain management is a dynamic and ever-changing medical specialty. Since there are many medical conditions that may cause pain, pain physicians have extensive knowledge but specialize only in the diagnosis and treatment of pain. Extensive research is ongoing involving new medicines, procedures and devices helpful in treating pain. Our clinic is involved in several clinical trials and has participated in research for over ten years.

Does insurance cover this type of treatment?

Clinical evaluations and procedures to treat pain are covered by most insurers. We evaluate each policy to determine appropriate coverage before treatment is rendered.

What type of patients do you see in your clinic?

We treat patients with many types of pain. Often patients might have more than one type of pain, such as a patient with arthritic spine pain as well as diabetic neuropathy. Our first goal is to find the source of pain. After the pain generator is found, we can consider the best treatment options. We certainly try to avoid surgical options if possible; however, we have a close relationship with excellent spine surgeons in the area and refer when appropriate.

What types of treatments do you use?

We utilize a full set of tools to treat patients. Each treatment plan is tailored for the patient and his or her specific needs and preferences. We always coach patients to use methods at their disposal such as home stretching and exercise as well as healthy living habits, good sleep, and sometimes weight loss. The most often utilized treatments include the use of medications and site-specific procedures to control pain and improve the quality of life.

Is pain management really a science or do patients there just take a bunch of medicines?

Pain management is a recognized sub-specialty of anesthesiology that requires not only a residency but also a one year fellowship. Pain management requires board certification and is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, the American Medical Association, as well as the United States federal government, Medicare, Medicaid and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama.

What are the advantages to effective pain treatment?

If your pain is appropriately diagnosed and treated, you may expect a much better quality of life, better sleep, more productivity, and less reliance on pain medications. We will work closely with your other doctors in a team approach when indicated.

What is an example of how pain care can improve my life?

If you have less pain, your work and recreational activities may be more productive and more fun, respectively. We endeavor to help with whatever aspect of your life has been adversely affected by your painful condition.

As a patient, what should I expect when I come to this clinic?

We will utilize your historical background and your description of pain. We will then review your prior records and imaging studies. You will also have a complete physical exam. Some patients may require a psychological evaluation if depression or other problems that affect pain exist. We will then give you treatment options that you may choose to have.

Do I have to get a referral?

Many patients are referred by their primary doctor or their surgeon, but we also see “self-referrals,” all by appointment only. We do not see “walk-ins.”

Does pain care always involve taking pain medicines?

While many patients were placed on medications prior to coming to the pain clinic, we consider continuing these medications along with other treatments on a case-by-case basis.

Is it safe to take pain medications?

Many studies have been done to answer this question. Like all treatments for pain, what is appropriate for one patient may not be the best treatment for the next. It is safe to take pain medicines chronically but only under the close supervision of trained physicians.

Will I become addicted to the medications?

The vast majority of patients taking pain medicines have no problems with addiction. Your body will likely become used to the medicines in a similar fashion as other chemicals such as nicotine or caffeine. Most patients have no problem tapering off of medications if desired, but again, only under physician supervision. We do not treat addiction nor do we detox patients.

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