Below are some of the most frequently asked questions by patients being evaluated and treated for a wide variety of pain syndromes. If you have any other questions, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, please contact our office today.
What is this specialty of “Pain Medicine”?
The specialty of Pain Medicine is a medical specialty that focuses on the evaluation and treatment of pain related conditions and its impact on quality of life. Most health care providers evaluate and treat pain, however pain specialists are trained to be able to manage pain conditions, offer specialized interventions and coordinate care with other health providers. By using multiple types of treatment, we are able to optimize pain relief and improve patient satisfaction.
As specialists, we are especially concerned about a very accurate and thorough evaluation for each of our patients. We want to do our best to diagnose the condition that is causing the painful symptoms. Then we need to use all of our training to promote the safest, most comprehensive, compassionate and cost effective care to each of our patients. Our training includes many different tools to approach pain related problems. We are taught to utilize a number of different specialists to coordinate our care and provide the best service to our patients. This multidisciplinary approach is most important for those patients who are suffering from chronic pain.
We also specialize in a number of different interventional techniques, unique to our specialty. We do a number of different pain relieving interventions, including epidural steroid injections, facet procedures, BOTOX®, joint and soft tissue injections, vertebroplasties, spinal cord stimulators, intrathecal pumps and other procedures. We also provide diagnostic interventions such as discograms, sympathetic nerve blocks and other procedures. We are trained to create a treatment program that is specific and unique to each individual patient based on their needs.
Does your office treat acute pain?
Yes, we treat acute and chronic of any type. We will do everything within our power to see patients in a timely manner.
Why do I have to fill out all of these forms?
A comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan requires in depth knowledge of a patient’s pain and other symptoms as well as background information on general medical issues. Having all of this information will lead to a safer and more successful treatment plan.
Why is exercise important in my treatment plan?
Exercise programs are important for everybody, but especially anyone with chronic pain. We know that inactivity causes more muscle and tendon dysfunction. People who don’t exercise tend to be very stiff and weak. Furthermore, we know that exercise is very helpful for all of our chronic pain patients for a number of different reasons. Firstly, it maintains normal muscle physiology, bone health and optimal functioning. Muscles should be exercised to maintain conditioning, flexibility and good tone. Furthermore, exercise and stretching are preventative measures that may help avoid further flare-ups or exacerbations of pain in the future. Without exercise we know that patients are more likely to have problems and flare-ups in their pain even doing very simple chores or activities around the house. In addition, good aerobic exercise can release endorphins which are very helpful for improving ones mood and decreasing depression.
We should note that exercise may be something as simple as stretching in bed once or twice a day. Some people fear the concept of exercise if they have not had much experience or practice in the past. One should realize that there are thousands of different types of exercise from very simple to very complicated. We certainly would recommend starting with an easy and simple exercise program and then slowly building up as tolerated. We frequently use physical therapy or other professional experts to assist in training programs for our patients.
What is an epidural steroid injection?
An epidural steroid injection is a procedure where we inject a small amount of a steroid anti-inflammatory medicine in the spine at the source of the spine or limb pain. The medicine is designed to heal injured nerves and not just mask symptoms. Please refer to the section of our website regarding epidural steroids for a much more comprehensive explanation.
What is a spinal cord stimulator?
A spinal cord stimulator is an innovative medical device designed to manage pain. Appropriately selected patients will have an opportunity to try this device for approximately 1 week. If the device is successful for their pain, functional abilities and quality of life, then they may be a candidate for a minor out patient procedure to implant the device for long-term use.
Why do I have to come to the office to pick up my prescriptions?
Some prescriptions can be refilled over the phone or through the pharmacy. Others are more tightly regulated, such as many pain medications, and require very close oversight and careful evaluations in a face-to-face visit. With each visit we evaluate many different aspects of the medication and its effect on each of our patients. At times we will want to suggest other alternative or complementary treatments which may improve the pain relief afforded by any medications the patient may be on.
What do I do if I run out of pain medications?
We take great care to oversee the safe use of medications in our patients. We make a point to schedule regular follow up visits for our patients to ensure there is no interruption in their care. We closely monitor and track the quantity of medications provided to our patients to make sure that they have enough medication to follow our recommended treatment orders. We encourage patients to communicate with us if their treatment plan requires modification, rather than making changes to their treatment plan on their own. We follow the FDA’s recommendations on safe prescribing. Generally prescriptions may not be refilled early if patients do not adhere to their recommended plan. Each situation is individually evaluated.
Why might a psychologist or psychiatrist be recommended to patients with pain?
Pain conditions can greatly disrupt the life of a patient and those around them. Mental health providers can help patients optimize strategies to better control their life and improve their coping with their conditions. Psychological techniques may include such things as self-hypnosis, biofeedback, behavior modification, meditation and group therapy among other alternatives. Many of these techniques offer significant benefits to patient’s, especially with may suffer from chronic pain. Psychiatrists are mental health physicians who offer medical treatments of many disorders that are common in patients with chronic pain.