The Section of Pain Medicine staff is dedicated to working with patients who have chronic pain to help minimize their suffering and restore their ability to take joy from life while contributing to it. The program will provide comprehensive specialized care to people experiencing chronic pain utilizing an interdisciplinary team approach. To these ends, the team works in a compassionate way to help people to exceed their perceived limitations, eliminate harmful behaviors, and replace them with healthy living.
Our Treatment Team
Because chronic pain affects so many aspects of an individual's life, it is appropriate that the treatment team be equally comprehensive. The team includes experts in pain management, biofeedback training, physical and occupational therapy, vocational rehabilitation, nursing, nutrition and psychotherapy.
Treatment is provided in the W.O. Walker Center with modern pool, exercise equipment and electronic biofeedback equipment. When hospitalization is required, patients are admitted to Cleveland Clinic and transported to the Walker Center for program activities.
The Pain Medicine team helps individuals to accomplish the following goals:
- Regain control of their lives.
- Resume normal function, including work, play and socialization.
- Overcome depression and anxiety.
- Regain the physical strength and endurance necessary for full involvement in life activities.
- Re-establish more normal relationships with friends and family.
- Become free of addicting drugs.
- Reduce level of pain, when possible.
- Replace a self-image of disability with one of wellness.
The Pain Medicine team agrees to:
- Relate to patients as individuals with hopes, feelings and goals.
- Treat patients as people who are suffering, but not ill.
- Work with patients to help them improve their level of functioning and suffer less.
- Provide an environment in which people sharing similar problems can work together toward recovery.
- Help patients and families understand the causes of pain and ways to manage it.
- Explain to patients all that we do.
- Ask patients to take part in activities which may be painful at first, but not ask them to engage in activities that will cause injury.
- Attempt to be consistent in responding to healthy behaviors, and in not responding to pain behaviors.
Treatment success requires that patients:
- Sincerely desire to live as normally as possible.
- Are willing to work toward making changes in their lives.
- Are open to investigating all factors related to their pain.
- Understand that improvement is not something we provide, but something we help them achieve.
- Are willing to allow others to relate to them as people, not patients.
We begin each evaluation by carefully reviewing the medical records from other institutions. For this reason, we ask that people send, or have their referring physician forward the results of any previous medical tests that relate to their pain. Based on our review of these records, an evaluation is tailored to the needs of the individual, and appropriate members of the evaluation team are scheduled to meet with him or her. The person may be seen by specialists in pain management, rehabilitation medicine, physical therapy, neurology, orthopaedics, dentistry, gynecology, internal medicine or other specialities as appropriate. If a treatable cause for the pain can be identified, the appropriate treatment is recommended. For individuals with unresolved chronic pain, we may recommend either inpatient or outpatient therapy in our Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program. In any case, a Pain Medicine Specialist will discuss and carefully explain the treatment plan to patient and family.
Day care and inpatient treatments involve the same therapies except that day care patients spend evenings at home or in a lodging facility, while inpatients spend the night in the hospital. Twenty-four-hour-a-day care is required for those who are most severely disabled, who are in need of medication adjustment, or whose depression or medical condition requires closer observation. Lodging is available on campus or at a local hotel for day care patients.
Whether a person is treated on an inpatient or day care basis, or a combination of both, the usual length of stay is three-and-a-half weeks. Actual time in treatment varies, depending on progress and goals. Treatment in the Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program includes such services as:
- Medication management to provide nonaddicting treatments for pain, insomnia and depression.
- Physical therapy to teach proper body mechanics and improve strength, flexibility and endurance.
- Functional capacity evaluation to determine work ability and assess needs for further patient conditioning.
- Biofeedback training to teach pain control by reducing muscle tension and nervous system arousal.
- Coping-skills training to teach stress reduction, interpersonal skills, and reduce the use of illness as a way of coping.
- Education to teach the causes of pain and the behaviors that are likely to make it better or worse.
- Monitored weaning of narcotics, tranquilizers and sedatives.
- Psychotherapy to reduce depression, anxiety, anger or other emotions which increase pain.
- Vocational counseling to assist re-entry into the job market.
- Occupational therapy to improve performance of tasks at home and at work.
- Work hardening to improve strength and endurance through the simulation of various work and leisure tasks.