Pain clinics and pain management centres offer a multidisciplinary assessment, advice and treatment service for people with long-term pain.
They're generally led by consultants in pain medicine and anaesthesia who work alongside many other healthcare professionals.
There aren't many pain clinics in the UK so there may be a long waiting list, but they're still worth looking at as part of your treatment.
What can I expect from the pain clinic?
Most clinics accept referrals from GPs, hospital consultants and sometimes from other allied healthcare professionals.
You'll usually be assessed by a consultant pain medicine specialist, who will:
- take a history
- examine you
- order tests.
In most cases a specific diagnosis will be given in order to decide the most effective approach to treatment.
The main aim of the pain clinic will be to reduce the intensity of your pain as much as possible, and ideally to get rid of it completely.
If it's impossible to completely ease the pain, the next aim is to reduce the impact that the pain has on your life.
Wide ranges of treatments are available in pain clinics, including:
Once the pain consultant has reduced the intensity of your pain, they may refer you on to other members of the team.
Most pain services also offer a pain management programme, usually on an outpatient basis but occasionally on a live-in (residential) basis. Pain management programmes are multidisciplinary, group-based treatment sessions which aim to lessen the impact of long-term pain.
These programmes are generally led by psychologists with input from nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and pain physicians.
Pain medicine specialists
Pain medicine specialists are doctors who train in general medicine before specialising as anaesthetists and taking further training in pain medicine. They sometimes continue to work as anaesthetists.
Pain medicine doctors work in multidisciplinary teams. They're familiar with techniques used in the treatment of pain and will be able to advise on suitable treatment packages.