What to Expect at a Pain Management Clinic
By Dr. Clayton Adams
An estimated 50 million people live with chronic pain, and if you’re one, then you may need a pain management clinic to help you get back to an active, healthy life.
If you’re looking for a clinic, then you’ve made it clear that you deserve relief.
We know that choice and journey is not always easy, especially if you’ve been a victim of pain stigmas.
And if you’ve already gone to a pain management clinic and didn’t feel heard or felt that the doctors didn’t believe you, then we get why you may feel nervous going to a new clinic and doctor.
But you have a right to dignity and compassion at any pain management clinic. And shame on those that perpetuate the stigmas that prevent you from receiving adequate treatment.
At APC, it’s our mission to break the stigma and provide a caring, compassionate, and collaborative environment for your journey to pain relief.
That’s why it’s imperative to be clear and transparent around what you can expect from our pain management clinic. From your initial check-in to your discharge, here’s how our team of qualified professionals will help you find relief.
Checking Into Your First Appointment
Your first appointment is the first step in your journey to finding relief. In many ways, the first step is the most important. Thus, there are a few things you need to bring that will set you up for success for checking into your first appointment.
**Due to COVID-19, we are currently helping all patients manage their pain via telemedicine. Learn more about our COVID policies and how to book your first telemedicine appointment in the article below:
Related: Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, and Use Telemedicine to Manage Your Pain During COVID-19
Bring Your Insurance Card, ID, Referral, and Imaging
If you are going through your insurance for pain management treatment, we require your insurance card, ID, and doctor’s referral on file to submit claims and authorizations to your insurance.
Related: Learn More About The Insurance We Accept
Also, if you have any relevant imaging such as MRIs, X-rays, or CTs of the areas that are causing you pain, please bring them to your initial appointment so your physician can review them with you.
Download and Fill Out Your New Patient Packet Before Your Appointment
We get that medical paperwork is a hassle at any medical clinic, so we work our hardest to make sure that all the paperwork is minimal, streamlined, and easy for you to fill out.
Your paperwork will focus on your medical history, symptoms, and where you currently experience pain. It also includes consent to treatment forms.
We highly recommend downloading, filling out, and bringing in our new patient packet for pain management before your first visit to save you time checking in.
Related: Download the Pain Management New Patient Forms
If you can’t download the paperwork and fill out the paperwork before your appointment, no worries; We recommend coming in 30 minutes early to your appointment to give yourself enough time to fill out the packet.
Our new patient forms are detailed and lengthy to make sure that we get all the information we need to create an accurate plan of care to help you find relief.
We promise that your first visit will have the most paperwork you’ll need to fill out in one sitting ever!
Creating a Customized Plan of Care in Your Initial Evaluation
We know there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to pain management.
You need a customized plan of care that will fit your unique needs, and all our physicians are dedicated to working with you during your initial evaluation.
Thus, we heavily emphasize collaboration in your initial evaluation and work with you to find a plan of care that will fit your goals.
Together, you’ll both review the following to get a detailed overview of all the nuances that make your case unique:
Your physician will also perform a physical exam during your initial evaluation if your imaging points out several related components to your pain. The brief exams will help your physician clarify which of those components is most likely the culprit.
Related: Understanding Pain: What Is Your Body Trying to Tell You?
Prescribing Medications and Procedures
After analyzing your case and discussing your needs and goals, you and your doctor will create a multi-modal plan of care that may include a balance of medications and procedures to help you achieve the most relief.
We understand that the opioid crisis is a sensitive issue, and in many ways, prevents people who need medication to find the relief they deserve. We also understand that many people would rather utilize other treatments first before taking a prescription.
Related: Chronic Pain Relief Without Medication
Again, we’re here to serve you and find a pain relief treatment that works, whether that includes medications or not. No matter what, you’ll discuss with your physician if a prescription is appropriate and come up with a plan specifically tailored to you.
For procedures, your physician will look for the smallest hammer to hit the nail first. In other words, together, you’ll look for the most conservative treatment that will bring relief.
We find that many patients are successful with a combination of anti-inflammatories and physical therapy. However, depending on the previous efficacy of these treatments, you and the severity of your case, then your physician may move ahead to other procedures.
Related: Learn More About The Pain Treatments Available to You
Adjusting Your Plan of Care With Follow-Ups
Most likely, your doctor will schedule your follow-up appointment one month after your initial evaluation to check on your progress in your plan of care.
Your physician will want to follow up with the effectiveness and potential side effects of any medications prescribed, and touch base about any of your questions after your procedure.
During the follow-up, you and your physician are tracking your plan of care’s success based on the following functional measures:
- Activity level: Has your activity level and function improved? How far can you walk before pain?
- Daily activities and self-care: Can you more effectively do your basic self-care and daily activities?
- Pain score: Has your pain score dropped since your initial evaluation?
- Goals: Have you met any of your goals since your initial evaluation?
If both of you conclude that not you’re not achieving enough progress due to side effects or a lack of efficacy, then your physician will adjust as needed.
Follow-ups are also used to assess and determine:
- Different medications and refills
- Last-minute procedures due to flare-ups
- Intrathecal pump refills
Typically, we find that chronic pain patients will consistently follow up with their physicians every month to keep track of and manage their pain effectively. On the other hand, we find that acute pain patients can have as few as three total visits before they find relief and are ready to be discharged.
Ultimately your follow-ups are meant to refine your unique treatment until you feel in control again, and since we’re dedicated to helping you find relief, we’ll follow up with you as much as you need.
Finding Relief and Getting Discharged From The Clinic
Your discharge day is a day to celebrate!
Discharge means you’ve found the pain relief you deserve and no longer need monthly follow-up visits with your physician. At this point, you may decide to do a yearly check-in to touch base with your physician, or you may decide you no longer need continuous care and will call if you need anything.
Either way, your physician will send you home with the necessary information so you can continue to get care if you need it in the future. Depending on your case, your physician will give you at-home care protocols to ensure you can maximize your relief independently. Things like ice, heat, exercising, massage, and acupuncture regimens will be tailored to your specific needs and sent home with you.
While at home, if you find you need our help, remember we’re always here for you.
Feel free to book an appointment and fill out our returning patient intake form so we can help you get back on track.
Your Journey to Pain Relief Starts Here
Let’s be real.
We hate pain management clinics that don’t believe that you’re in severe pain.
Clinics that make you feel discouraged after you open up your history and experience with pain. Clinics that stigmatize you for something that commonly evolves out of your control.
Opening up to any physician about your pain requires vulnerability, and these clinics make it nerve-racking when it shouldn’t be.
At APC, we aspire to be different.
You don’t need to justify your pain to us because we believe you.
When you say, “I’m in debilitating pain.” We understand you.
When you say, I want to return to a normal, active life.” We want to help you.
When you say, “I want to tailor my plan of care.” We work with you.
Because it’s our job to help take care of you and treat your pain in the most empowering way possible – without the stigma and judgments and with all the compassion, consideration, and respect you deserve at a pain management clinic.
We’re here to help you because pain is inevitable, but your suffering is optional.
Choose to find relief and let us help you by booking an appointment with one of our pain management specialists.