Living with chronic pain can be extremely upsetting, and it can sometimes feel totally impossible that you will lead anything like a normal life again. Thankfully, modern medicine and sympathetic understanding has moved forward so much in the last twenty years that there are now special clinics being created called ‘pain clinics’ (see how to legally offer pain treatments). They have been created to help people that are struggling to live full and happy lives because of the pain they are in, and although pain clinics can offer no promises, they can offer a wide range of solutions that may be able to help you.
What is a pain clinic?
Each and every pain clinic is slightly different. Some are designed to help patients with one or two particular illnesses, such as cancer pain clinics. Others are more generalist, and welcome absolutely anyone who is having to live with chronic pain on a day to day basis. What is so wonderful about pain clinics is that they take a multidisciplinary approach – and that means, in practice, that there will be many different specialists with huge amounts of experience who can all put their efforts into helping you manage your pain.
What does a pain clinic actually do?
As we have said, no two pain clinics are exactly the same, but there are some common themes that run throughout all of them. A pain clinic will have permanent full time members of staff that are dedicated to talking through with a patient exactly how they are feeling, and then putting together an action plan of treatments to help to alleviate that pain – or remove it altogether. If you visit a pain clinic, you may find that you have appointments with physical therapists and psychologists, just as often as you see alternative therapists. For example, massage therapists are proving each and every day that if the muscles and nerves are treated right, a huge amount of pain and discomfort can be removed.
What options are there for me at a pain clinic?
Every patient is individually assessed, so we cannot say for sure exactly what treatment plans would be offered to you if you went to a pain clinic. However, we can give you a quick overview of the types of pain management treatments that most pain clinics will offer to their patients:
Medication is often the best place to start, because they can often be the easiest cure. That is why many pain clinics will start of with some medication to see exactly how the pain responds. There are many different types of medication that a pain clinic could prescribe, including non-aspirin pain relief that can be combined with others, non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs, which are often available over the counter, corticosteroids which will require a prescription, and opiod pain medications which are the most heavy duty pain reliefs available. You may also find that in conjunction with these pain medications, you may be prescribed anti-depressants. The more we learn about them, the more we realise that as well as treating depression, anti-depressants can relieve some kinds of pain, and can aid you to sleep better.
Of course, most people have tried a variety of these treatments before they attend a pain clinic, and if that includes you then your pain clinic specialist will probably try out something a little different.
Local anaesthetic can be injected around muscles or nerves that are giving you the most pain, and can therefore dull the pain for a time. Injections are particularly powerful when it comes to relieving swellings, which will almost certainly help your pain to reduce in the long run.
3. Nerve blocks.
Sometimes an entire group of nerves could be causing you chronic pain, and if this is true then your pain clinic specialist may suggest that you receive nerve blocking treatment. This is particularly useful if you have pain in one specific body part or body area. Local anaesthetic will be injected directly into the nerve, and many people have been amazed at the difference that it can make.
4. Physical therapy and aquatic therapy.
Few of us like the idea of exercise, but sometimes a little gentle movement done right can transform the way that you feel. If your pain clinic specialist believes that this is the right route to take, then a special unique personalised physical therapy treatment plan will be drawn up for you. This treatment plan will aim to increase your ability to move, walk, and continue a normal life, as well as diminish the pain that you feel. However, physical therapy does not always mean exercise: it can also mean ultrasound therapy and deep muscle massage. Aquatic therapy is often prescribed to those that will need a little extra physical support which the water can provide.
5. Electrical stimulation.
This may sound a bit frightening, but it is scientifically proven to have a huge effect on the way that some people experience their chronic pain. A small device will stimulate the nerve fibers that lie just underneath your skin, and this can transform the way that your nerves respond to pain.
This is just a small snapshot of the treatments that are available within a pain clinic – even more include acupuncture, counselling, and relaxation techniques. The staff at a pain clinic are fully trained in helping you to discover a way to live with your pain, and help you gain a normal life once more.
The idea of a pain clinic can be a little frightening, but do not worry – they are not clinics where pain is administered! In fact, they are quite the opposite: they are places where chronic pain is relieved. For those that live in almost constant pain, life can be very tiring and very depressing, especially if that pain prevents them from doing all of the things that they would like to do. That is why pain clinics were created, and they have become more and more popular the more people realise that they exist.
Some pain clinics are created specifically for a type of illness, such as cancer, or a particular body area, such as the spine. When you attend a pain clinic, a pain clinic specialist will talk you through the different options that will be available to you. Obviously, no one is exactly the same, and that means that everyone’s treatment plan will be slightly different. A pain clinic will hold a large number of specialists in different fields so that they will always be on hand to help out. Some of the different pain relief options are well known. Pain medication will often be prescribed, and patients will be taught relaxation techniques and receive counselling. However, some other treatments are much less well known, such as electrical stimulation, acupuncture, and local anaesthetic injections into the nerves.
If you are living in constant chronic pain, and it is preventing you from leading the life that you want, then it is probably time to make an appointment at the pain clinic. You do not have to accept any treatment that you do not want to, but sometimes just talking about it with a professional who truly understands can make a huge difference. Now is the time to reclaim your life back, and say goodbye to pain.