Finding the Right Pain Clinic (4 things to look for)

Have you ever gone to a pain clinic for treatment?  I did once upon a time, and I think it was helpful.  Pain clinics are popping up all over the world, but they’re not all created equal.

Pain Clinic

So what should you look for in a pain clinic?  How do you decide what is worth your time and money, and what is a waste?

In 1990 the International Association for the Study of Pain created a document called Desirable Characteristics for Pain Treatment Facilities.  The task force that completed the document included medical professionals from 7 countries.  The idea was to think about what a pain clinic is, or should be, in order to help health practitioners and governments create guidelines.

The document also talks about defining different types of pain clinics.  For example, some may carry on research, others may focus only on treatment.

You can read the complete document on pain clinics here, but there are a few things that will be particularly helpful to you as you’re looking for a clinic to treat pain:

  • A pain clinic should include a group of professionals with a variety of specialties.  The document states:  …the developed nations should require that any facility calling itself a pain clinic or pain center offer a multidisciplinary array of diagnostic and treatment facilities.  This really is the strength of a pain clinic – the ability to diagnose and treat a variety of issues at a time.  I’m betting that most people’s headache issues are actually coming from a variety of sources.
  • Communication.  The medical professionals need to communicate with each other, and use a standardized method of diagnosing and treating patients.  The advantage of having several specialists falls apart when they’re not working together.  In their words:  The health care providers should communicate with each other on a regular basis both about individual patients and programs offered in the pain treatment facility.
  • Adequate staff and facilities.  That includes support staff, and space to carry out treatment and to deal with emergencies.
  • Someone qualified in charge.  Someone should be in charge of the activities of the clinic, helping everyone to work together to give you proper treatment.

The document makes other points as well, such as making sure each person is qualified for what they’re doing, and including a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist in the clinic.

Before you make the commitment to a pain clinic (and it is a commitment), find out exactly who works there, their qualifications, and how the clinic functions.  A little research ahead of time will help you get the most out of your time there.

Thanks to Help My Hurt for pointing out this document.

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