What exactly is a pain clinic?

Photo by monkeybusinessimages / iStock / Getty Images Plus; St. George News

FEATURE — In my years of practice, I have heard more times than I can count the statement “I don’t even know what a pain clinic is.” Or “I was sent here by my primary care physician, but I don’t know why.”

Managing pain is not new. Physicians have been managing pain since the beginning of medicine. However, the distinct subspeciality of pain management is a relatively new phenomenon. Pain management was in its infancy in the 1960s, and the benefits of seeing someone trained specifically in the care of pain has only much more recently become available.

In order to better understand the pain management subspeciality, here are some common questions and responses about the who, what, why and where of a pain clinic.

What are pain management physicians?

Pain management physicians are doctors (M.D. or D.O.) who graduated from medical school. They have completed a residency – usually in anesthesiology or physiatry – and may have completed a subspeciality fellowship in interventional pain management. All told they may spend as many as nine years in schooling and training before starting full-time practice.

What is the role of a pain management clinic?

Providers at a pain management clinic are specifically trained to diagnose and treat pain symptoms. Unlike other diseases, there may be no specific blood tests or imaging tests that definitively diagnose the root cause of pain.

Additionally, every person’s experience with pain is unique, and each individual requires a customized approach to their treatment.

What should I expect at my first visit to a pain clinic?

Diagnosis and treatment of pain is accomplished through a thorough physical examination. Additionally, it can be helpful to have radiographic imaging to help confirm specific diagnoses and rule out other problems. Your pain physician will review the imaging and interpret other physical evidence in order to come up with a comprehensive plan.

Will I just get prescribed pills or just get scheduled for shots?

Pain management requires a multidisciplinary approach to treatment. We work closely with physical therapists, primary care physicians, surgeons, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and mental health specialists. As the cause of pain is multifactorial, treatment of pain must also be multi-dimensional.

When should I go see a pain doctor?

When someone asks me when they should go see a pain management physician, my response is always, “As soon as possible.” The earlier we address the problem, the more likely we will be able to treat it adequately.

Is there a pain clinic in my town?

Desert Pain and Spine has clinics in Cedar City, St. George, Hurricane, Kanab and Mesquite. They are able to offer the most up-to-date procedures, techniques and technologies in order to treat the underlying cause of your pain and relieve the symptoms.

If you have pain, don’t wait. Make an appointment for an evaluation. There is a good chance we will be able to help manage your pain. Call Desert Pain Specialists now at 435-216-7000 in St. George or 435-238-7000 in Cedar City.

Written by: DR. RYAN WORKMAN, D.O.

About Desert Pain Specialists

Desert Pain Specialists is Southern Utah’s premier interventional pain management team. Both Empey and Wells are fellowship trained interventional pain medicine specialists and Southern Utah natives. The doctors and the entire staff at Desert Pain Specialists are dedicated to helping patients find relief from their pain.

Desert Pain Specialists is located in the Coral Desert Health Center, 1490 Foremaster Drive, Suite 220 in St. George. The team has additional offices in Cedar City – 1760 N. Main St.- and Mesquite, Nevada – 340 Falcon Ridge Parkway, Suite 600.

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1 Comment

  • tcrider October 11, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    I have had super good luck at the intermountain healthcare wellness center with physical therapy, they have some of the best therapists that I have ever worked with.

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