Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: Acute pain is usually the result of an injury, surgery or illness. The sensation of pain decreases as the injury heals and eventually disappears. Chronic pain is an ongoing condition, often experienced in the spine or head. You may also suffer from neuropathic pain (nerve injury pain), musculoskeletal pain, and pain related to illness at any location in the body. Your physician may refer you to the pain management center because your chronic pain condition has not responded to conventional therapies.
Treatments for acute and chronic pain are generally quite different. In some cases, acute and chronic pain can be stopped or alleviated by a single procedure or series of procedures. Sometimes, chronic pain is part of a widespread disease process, and the specific cause may be difficult to pinpoint. Once we have identified the specific factor causing the pain, we may be able to treat it so that the condition no longer occurs. In some patients, the specific factor causing the pain–such as cancer–cannot be changed, but we may be able to reduce the pain or help the patient to better cope with the pain through a combination of medical, psychosocial and rehabilitation techniques.
What are the most common problems that result in chronic pain?
Answer: While there are a multitude of conditions that may lead to chronic pain, we have found the following to be most prevalent in our patients:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Muscle Pain (Myalgia)
- Nerve Pain
- Post Herpetic Neuralgia (Shingles)
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What is pain management?
When should a person seek a pain management specialist?
What is the economic impact of pain?
What are the major issues surrounding pain?
Answer: Chronic pain can become so intense and overwhelm the body and mind to such a degree that it can affect all areas of life. People become so afflicted that they often cannot work. Their appetite falls off. Physical activity of any kind is exhausting and may aggravate the pain. Often, the person becomes the victim of a vicious cycle in which total preoccupation with pain leads to irritability and depression. Adding to these ailments is the fatigue sufferers experience from not being able to sleep at night.
In other cases of chronic pain, issues of secondary gain may arise. This may develop when patients associate pain with some form of benefit — as when a sufferer has a coworker help out at work, or a spouse is extra- supportive. In these cases, the sufferer may receive a benefit for not treating the pain effectively.
At Auburn Pain Specialists, we will work with the patient to identify and alleviate these issues.
What medications are most commonly used to manage pain?
Answer: While drug therapies differ for each person, the most common are:
- Adjuvant pain medications, including: antidepressants, anticonvulsants and muscle relaxers.
- Opiates or “pain killers” used to treat acute pain or cancer-related pain, and often prescribed for chronic pain.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs to alleviate pain by reducing swelling and irritation.
There are alternative delivery methods for medications. Common methods used at the office are oral medications, topical creams, sublingual medicines, nasal sprays, injections and patches.
What about the stories of addiction surrounding opiates? Is there a difference between physical dependence and addiction?
Answer: The practice of pain management involves the treatment to relieve or reduce pain. The truth regarding opioids, “narcotics” or “painkillers,” is simply that they all have the potential for serious adverse side effects, including addiction, even when monitored appropriately.
These side effects and adverse effects are explained in more detail in our opioid prescribing policy, and must be discussed prior to the initiation of any opioid regimen for the treatment of chronic pain of non-cancer origin. Remember, the most effective treatment plans don’t involve opioid medications by themselves. Patients and physicians must work together using several treatment strategies along biological, psychological, and social areas to achieve stated goals prior to starting any treatment plan.
Tolerance, or loss of pain-relieving effects of pain medication may occur over long period of time. This is usually less of an issue than was once suspected as long as activity levels are maintained. Benzodiazepines (sedatives) are not concurrently administered along with opioids. Withdrawal, or feelings of anxiety, nausea, increased pain, and/or sweating are expected from abruptly discontinuing any opioid, no matter what the substance or form it may come in. Addiction is defined as: impaired control over use of medication; craving, preoccupation with obtaining and using the drug; and continued use despite harm (physical, psychologic, social). If a patient has an issue with addiction to a controlled substance such as opioids, he or she will be referred to the appropriate specialist for treatment of this condition.
Is pain management covered by health insurance?
Do these procedures hurt?
How long do most procedures take?
When will I be able to return to work?
Do I need a referral from a doctor?
Why must you have my information before my visit?
What should I bring with me to my appointment?
What if I am late for my appointment?
What should I do if I am unable to attend an appointment?
What is your policy regarding missed appointments?
Do you accept my insurance?
Do I need a referral from my insurance?
What if my referral does not arrive in time of my visit?
What is your policy regarding co-pays, co-insurances, and deductibles?
Do you accept Workers’ Compensation?
I was involved in a motor vehicle accident. I have an attorney and he is handling all my medical cost. Can I make an appointment?
Will my health information be kept confidential?
Why must I sign a consent form to see the doctor?
If I am scheduled for a procedure, where will my procedure be performed?
Answer: Most of our procedures are performed in our fluoroscopy suite located in our office in Auburn. Those patients that require surgical intervention will be referred to outpatient surgery.