Addiction Helpline and Resource Center

What Is a Pain Clinic?

What Is a Pain Clinic?More than 100 million Americans experience acute or chronic pain according to a 2011 Institute of Medicine report on relieving pain. The economic costs of pain are great as well, around $560-$635 billion including factors like lost productivity and health care costs.

Pain from an injury or disease can change a person’s life. Pain clinics specialize in treating all kinds of pain including chronic back and neck pain, cancer-related pain and neuropathic pain from diabetes. Known for specialized expertise in managing pain symptoms, these clinics address less well understood aspects of pain. Pain sufferers can find a variety of treatments at pain clinics, and many of them are holistic options that treat pain without medication.

An effective pain clinic carefully monitors patients for signs of addiction while taking into account the importance of effectively managing pain symptoms according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Clinicians must screen patients for risk factors like personal or family history of drug abuse and mental illness. However, pain symptoms are complicated. Pain experts should be prepared to evaluate the difference between increasing pain levels versus lowered effectiveness of pain relievers due to drug tolerance.

Treatment Options at Pain Clinics

Reputable pain clinics will offer both drug-free and prescription drug-based pain relief strategies according to WebMD. There are several relief strategies that are medication-free including the following:

  • Physical and aquatic therapy – For pain patients there are certain exercises that increase a person’s muscle function and decrease pain. Some options include whirlpool therapy, ultrasound and deep-muscle massage.
  • Electrical stimulation – Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is the most common electrical pain management technique. TENS uses a small, battery-operated device to stimulate nerve fibers through the skin.
  • Acupuncture – An ancient Chinese method of inserting very thin needles into specific points on the skin to relieve pain is acupuncture.
  • Psychological support and counseling – Counseling helps people deal with the feelings of anger, sadness and hopelessness that accompanies dealing with chronic pain.
  • Relaxation techniques – Self-help techniques like relaxation training or biofeedback help reduce stress and relieve pain.
  • Surgery – Often a last-resort option, surgery is sometimes used on certain nerves to block pain.

Chronic Pain and Addiction

A lack of long-term research on the relationship between chronic pain and addiction gives researchers limited data on the rate of addiction among chronic pain patients. The NIDA estimates the chronic pain patient addiction rate is between three and 40%. There is no single cause for addiction, instead many factors influence whether a person is at risk for developing a substance use disorder.

Sometimes it is hard to know if a chronic pain patient will be at risk for becoming dependent on prescription pain relievers. A 1997 study of chronic pain patients in Seattle found that psychosocial testing that screened for past opiate or alcohol abuse was not a reliable predictor of opiate abuse in the clinic according to the Clinical Journal of Pain. Of the 19% of clinic patients regularly using opioid pain relievers, 34% met one criterion for abuse while 28% met three or more abuse criteria.

Pain Clinics and Addiction

An estimated 22.5 million Americans age 12 or older (8.9 percent of the population) meet the criteria for a substance use disorder according to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Around 1.9 million Americans reported nonmedical use of pain relievers, which is the second highest population of individuals using drugs illicitly behind marijuana users (4.3 million).

Chronic pain patients are at risk for becoming dependent on pain relievers, particularly habit-forming ones such as opioids, for several reasons according to NIDA. Over time a person’s body becomes tolerant to a drug and higher and higher doses are required to achieve the same pain relief. Patients may also become even more sensitive to pain over time and require higher doses to combat the new pain level.

Pain clinics that offer a combination of pain relief therapies give patients the best chance of managing pain and avoiding drug dependence or abuse.

Need Help Finding Pain Reliever Addiction Treatment?

It can be difficult to make the first step and seek help for chronic pain and co-occurring addiction. When a person recognizes that he or she needs help, an important psychological hurdle is accomplished. Finding the best care with the most individualized attention is an important part of the process.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a pain reliever addiction, please call our toll-free helpline. Our admissions coordinators are trained to offer discreet advice and provide the best possible treatment options. We help individuals overcome addictions with a philosophy that addresses the whole person covering mental, physical and spiritual concerns. Call our toll-free helpline, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for advice. Don’t struggle alone. Call us today.

banner ad