The movement toward Pain Centers

In the healthcare market today, physicians and hospitals are struggling to provide quality care and maintain profits. The business of medicine is increasingly complicated and competitive. Minimally invasive access techniques and modalities are in huge demand. The internet has become a patient education tool and search engine for consumer due diligence.

During the last decade, pain management has evolved into an integral part of patient care, and has dramatically affected the medical community.

Chronic pain, which lasts at least six months and does not respond to conventional medical treatments, not only reduces the quality of life for individual sufferers but costs our economy more than 70 billion dollars a year in lost productivity and medical costs. Medical professionals today have a better understanding of pain. Attitudes are changing, diagnostic protocols have advanced, technology has improved, and there are more medication options. Physician specialists such as neurologists, physiatrists, orthopedists, neurosurgeons and anesthesiologists have incorporated pain management into their practice. For chronic pain sufferers, finding relief can be difficult and time consuming. Because of the diverse nature of the illness, often patients are shuffled back and forth between primary care physicians, specialists, and therapists of all kinds in search of a solution to their pain problems.

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Advantages of Pain Centers

Today, in many locations throughout the United States, traditional pain management specialists have merged to form collaborative programs for the comprehensive treatment of pain. Patients find many advantages to these programs including the centralization of medical care with less duplication of services from different medical disciplines. An integrated pain management program educates the patient to understand their condition and to learn how it can be controlled. The patient and specialist work together as partners to determine the best treatment.

Establishing a Pain Center provides patients with better, more accessible solutions for pain related diagnosis and treatment, including: interventional pain management, physical therapy, occupational therapy, medication management, case management and psychological services. The goal of the Pain Center is to relieve, reduce or manage pain and improve a patient's overall quality of life and return them to their everyday activities.

Procedures that can be provided in an interventional pain management practice are:

  • Evaluations
  • Case management
  • Medication management
  • Procedures such as: diagnostic and therapeutic nerve blocks (cervical, thoracic, lumbar and caudal), facet injections (cervical, thoracic and lumbar), neuraxial narcotic procedures, sympathetic blocks (stellate ganglion, thoracic, lumbar and hypogastric), discography, peripheral nerve blocks, radiofrequency denervation, trial and permanent spinal cord stimulator, implantable pumps, and percutaneous nucleoplasty.
  • Ancillary services, such as diagnostic imaging, physical and occupational therapy, and psychotherapy (testing and counseling)