What does a Pain Clinic Do?

By Dr. Amod Manocha in Pain Management

Jul 13 , 2017 | 4 min read


Pain clinics are specialised centres that help in the management of chronic pain and in improving the quality of life of the patients. Apart from medication, pain clinics use interventional pain procedures to help improve the lives of those suffering from long-term pain. Pain medicine is a specialised branch of medicine that uses an interdisciplinary approach to help treat and manage conditions that cause debilitating pain, such as cancer and arthritis.

Pain is usually one of the earliest indicators that there is something not quite right with your body. Pain is the body's way of alerting you to an injury, discomfort, or disease. It prompts you to seek medical attention. As the injury starts to heal, the pain should become less severe. However, in some cases, the body continues to send signals to the brain. This condition can cause much disruption to daily activities and diminish the quality of life.

Chronic pain is pain that lasts for several months or years. In general, pain that lasts over 12 weeks or three months is termed chronic pain. Chronic pain can and must be treated. The pain clinic at Max Hospital India offers the best pain management therapies available in the country.

Chronic Pain and Quality of Life

Chronic pain has an adverse effect on mobility, ability to perform routine tasks, and ability to enjoy life. It causes lost workdays, reduced productivity, and an inability to enjoy life to the fullest.

Several studies have linked chronic pain with increased anxiety and depression. This, in turn, gives way to irritability and sleep disorders. These three conditions, chronic pain, depression or anxiety, and sleep disorders, are together referred to as the unhappy triad.

Chronic pain can lead to marital and interpersonal problems, isolation, dependence, low self-esteem, and behavioural changes.

What is Pain Medicine?

Pain Medicine is a medical speciality that deals with the management of pain. Pain medicine deals with the management of several conditions, such as cancer and arthritis, that could cause chronic and debilitating pain.

The Pain Clinic at Max Hospital uses an interdisciplinary approach whereby experts from different specialities work together to give you the best outcomes. Pain management offers both medicinal and therapeutic approaches to deal with chronic pain.

Pain Medicine strives to treat the physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioural aspects of chronic pain. This is a medical necessity, an essential service that is now being recognised by the medical community.

Types of Pain Medicine/Relievers

Pain medicines or analgesics are among the most common drugs that are used across the world. Pain is a complex process, and the medicines used to provide relief from pain also act through different mechanisms. Pain medications are broadly classified into -

  1. Prescription medicines

  2. Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines or non-prescription medicines

  3. Prescription pain medicines are drugs that can be administered only under medical supervision. Some of the most common prescription pain medicines include –

    1. Anti-convulsant drugs

    2. Antidepressants such as tricyclics

    3. Corticosteroids

    4. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

    5. Opioids analgesics

There are several OTC medicines that can be taken to manage pain. These include –

  1. Acetaminophen

  2. Topical muscle relaxants

  3. Some anti-inflammatory medications like Ibuprofen

What Are the Potential Risks or Complications of Pain Medicine/Relievers?

Both prescription pain medicines and OTC pain medication come with several risks. These can provide pain relief in the short term. However, sustained use may adversely affect health.

Opioid pain medicines can be highly addictive substance abuse is one of the greatest risks associated with these medicines. Therefore, their use must be strictly monitored and reviewed even when prescribed by a doctor.

Other classes of prescription pain medicines may cause -

  1. Constipation

  2. Weakness or fatigue 

  3. Insomnia or drowsiness 

  4. Nausea or vomiting

  5. Neurological symptoms such as headaches, blurred vision

  6. Mood changes

  7. Dizziness

  8. Inability to concentrate

  9. Rashes or allergic reactions

OTC pain medicines are not devoid of risks, such as an overdose of acetaminophen can cause liver toxicity and damage. Sustained use or overuse of acetaminophen can cause liver toxicity and damage.

Other potential risks of OTC pain medicines include -

  1. Kidney damage

  2. Hypertension

  3. Peptic ulcers

  4. Bruising and Bleeding

  5. Rashes and skin allergies

Are Pain Medicines Safe During Pregnancy?

If you are pregnant, you must inform your doctor. Some prescription and OTC painkillers are safe to use during pregnancy. However, it is important to look out for any potential side effects and seek expert advice before using them.

Chronic or overuse of pain medications may be linked to birth defects or adverse reactions during pregnancy. Therefore, it is best to consult a doctor in case of pain during pregnancy.

What Are Interventional Pain Procedures?

Interventional Pain Management seeks to diagnose and manage chronic pain-related disorders. The main goal is to find ways to reduce the pain and offer relief to patients suffering from chronic pain. While medication is an important part of pain management, interventional pain procedures include a number of minimally invasive techniques that reduce the patient's dependence on regular medication.

Some of the common types of interventional pain procedures include -

  1. Epidural steroid injections and nerve root blocks

  2. Radiofrequency ablation

  3. Cryoablation

  4. Electrical stimulation

  5. Peripheral Nerve Field Stimulation

  6. Regenerative techniques such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)

Advantages of Interventional Pain Procedures

Interventional pain procedures score over both medicine and surgery. It comes with some distinct advantages.

  1. Interventional pain procedures produce immediate pain relief

  2. These are usually OPD or day-care procedures

  3. They do not require the administration of anaesthesia and eliminate the risks of anaesthesia

  4. The pain relief can last for a considerable period of time

  5. The procedures are available to patients deemed unfit for surgery

  6. These procedures can be repeated safely if required

  7. These procedures are generally safe with minimal potential for harm

What Are Other Pain Treatment Options?

Apart from medication and interventional pain procedures, the pain management experts at Max Hospital recommend alternative pain management options. These include –

  1. Physical and occupational therapies

  2. Exercises to increase mobility, range of movement, and muscle spasticity

  3. Heat and cold treatments to reduce stiffness

  4. Relaxation techniques and support modalities such as yoga, meditation, stress management

  5. Psychotherapy

  6. Group therapy

By themselves, these therapies may not be successful in the management of chronic pain, but in combination with medicines and interventional pain procedures, they enhance the quality of life considerably.

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