But what is a pain clinic and how can it be beneficial?
“The ideal pain clinic should treat the whole patient,” said Andrew J. McDavid, MD, director of pain management at Scott & White. “[Docs at the clinic] should look at the patient’s psychiatric past, their physical therapy, and how they can help the patient prevent injury again.”
The Scott & White Center for Pain Management located in Temple at the Scott & White Pavillion, was founded on particularly trying to rehabilitate or do procedures to get the patient back to work.
What sorts of patients are usually seen at the pain clinic?
“Usual patients are those with herniated discs or whose back goes out and they’re laid up at home,” Dr. McDavid said.
The pain clinic also sees patients whose X-rays and MRIs don’t warrant surgery, but the patient is still miserable and missing work.
How do I know if my pain is severe enough to seek medical treatment?
A patient who gets frequent migraines doesn’t need to come in every time they get a headache. The time to seek medical attention is if there’s a change in the pattern of the symptoms.
“If the patient gets double vision, spots in front of the eyes or if they have nausea or vomiting –those are the things we tell them to look for.”
The pain alone doesn’t determine whether or not to seek treatment.
“It’s location, severity, what caused it, what changed it and is there something different about it?” Dr. McDavid said.
Do people really have different pain tolerances?
“There’s definitely an individual variation,” he said. “Some people can take a lot of pain and it doesn’t really bother them. Other people get as much as a headache and they don’t know what to do.”
Many times, the person’s tolerance is based on environmental factors.
“If you’re brought up in a household where everybody comes and runs when they have pain and you get attention, then that reinforces that,” Dr. McDavid said. “Or if the family revolves around Mama’s pain, then clearly Mama has an incentive to talk about her pain more.”
With pain being so subjective, how do you keep people from abusing the pain clinic?
“If we’re going to establish care, [the patient] has to sign a document that says they won’t abuse or sell any medication they are given,” he said. “And if we’re suspicious, we have them sign a narcotic contract that they won’t get their medicines anywhere else. And if they have illegal drugs in their system during random drug screens, then they have violated the contract and we will stop treatment.”
But for those who are really looking for help with chronic pain, Dr. McDavid said those patients should ask their primary care physician for a referral to Scott & White’s pain clinic.