Q. Just what is Pain anyway?
A: Pain is the body’s warning system, alerting you that something is wrong. The International Association for the Study of Pain defines it as an unpleasant experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage to a person’s body. Specialized nervous system cells (neurons) that transmit pain signals are found throughout the skin and other body tissues. These cells respond to things such as injury or tissue damage.
For example, when a harmful agent such as a sharp knife comes in contact with your skin, chemical signals travel from neurons in the skin through nerves in the spinal cord to your brain, where they are interpreted as pain.
Most forms of pain can be divided into two general categories: acute and chronic. Acute pain is temporary. It can last a few seconds or longer but wanes as healing occurs. Some examples of things that cause acute pain include burns, cuts, and fractures. Chronic pain, such as that seen in people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, ranges from mild to severe and can last a lifetime. (Source: WebMD)
Q. What happens at the first appointment?
A: The doctor and nurses will sit with you and review your physical history and pain history. The doctor will then perform a detailed medical exam designed to identify the specific cause of your pain. Then, our staff will discuss treatment options with you.
Q. What kind of doctors work at Pain Solutions Treatment Centers?
A: Our doctors are board certified in anesthesiology and pain management. Our practice has been in continuous operation for more than 15 years, and we have treated tens of thousands of new patients in that time. Our doctors have more than 100 years of combined experience.
Q. What are the procedures like?
A: Each procedure is different, but the basic idea is to find the nerve that is causing the pain and to put medicine around it to calm it down. The great majority of procedures take no more than several minutes to perform. To make the procedure more comfortable, we can offer sedation, if needed.
Q. The Doctors and Nurses at your practice seem to take prescription medications VERY seriously. I ran out of a pain med prescription and called in for a refill and instead was given an appoinment to visit the Physician Assistant the next day. Why is this?
A: We DO take medication prescriptions VERY seriously indeed! We want to manage pain in the safest, most effective way possible.
There are so many different kinds of medications available that can be effective in treating pain as long as they are taken exactly as prescribed. All the different meds we prescribe have different actions, uses, doses and side-effects. It is critical that the patient take these meds strictly according to instructions. We make every effort to make sure that the patient understands what each medication does and why it is prescribed as a particular dose taken at a particular time. We also encourage each patient to ask questions of us and their pharmacist about their medications so that they feel comfortable taking the medicine.
Now, to answer your question directly, we write pain medications on a 30-day basis. This is especially true of any opioid narcotic pain medicines. These medications are strong and effective but each carry a different risk if not used properly, which is why we require that the patient return every 30 days in order for us to assess how the patient is responding to the medication.
So, if you were instructed, for example, to take 1 tablet of Oxycodone/acetominophen two times per day, only if needed, we would give you 60 tablets (2 x 30 = 60) for the next 30 days. If you ran out of this medication after say, 20 days, it would mean that you are not taking the medicine as prescribed. You are actually taking more medicine than prescribed. If this is happening because your pain is not controlled, it would not be safe for us to simply give you another prescription without examining you directly to see why the pain is not controlled. In addition, most opioid narcotic medications can not, by law, be called into a pharmacy, and the only way you could get another prescription is by having another office visit.
One more point, because you signed a Medication Agreement with our practice, you can only get a pain medication from one physician source. This means, if you get that oxycodone/acetominophen prescription from us and then obtain a pain prescription from another physician, you can be dismissed from our practice. This may seem harsh but it is the safest, most efficient way of managing your pain.
Q. I’m having trouble getting through to the office by phone, what can I do?
A: We take literally hundreds of phone calls on a daily basis, so there may be times when it is difficult to to speak to someone immediately by phone. If you are having trouble trying to get through to the office on the phone, please use the Contact section of this website to e-mail the department with whom you wish to get in touch.
For example: If you have medication refill questions, go to “Contact” and scroll down to “Triage Nurse” and type in your e-mail address and question. When you press the “Submit” button, your question will be sent to the Phone Triage department, and you should have an answer by the end of the day.
Q. I had a spine fusion surgery, and my back still hurts every bit as bad as before the surgery.
A: A surgeon will perform surgery to correct an anatomical problem with your spine that was threatening to permanently damage the nerves that go to your arms or legs. The surgery is considered a success when your spinal nerves have been taken out of danger of being destroyed. However, there are times when your back still hurts, even though the surgery was a success. This is called Post Laminectomy Syndrome and it occurs after a percentage of all spinal fusion surgeries. We can control this pain in a way that allows you to stay as active as possible.
Q. I have chronic low back pain but I want to keep running to stay fit. Any Tips?
As surprising as it sounds, you can still enjoy running with low back pain. Learn more here.
Q. I am on blood pressure medications. When you ask if I am taking blood thinners before a procedure, I wonder if the two meds are the same.
A: No, blood pressure medicine and blood thinning medicine are two different things. It is important that we know if you are taking blood thinners. You may be advised to stop your blood thinner meds for a couple of days before a procedure, but you will never be advised to stop your blood pressure meds.
Q. I had a Medial Branch Nerve Block and the pain went away then came back the next day. Why did that happen?
A: Your doctor has determined that you have a condition called “Spondylosis” which is a fancy way of saying “arthritis”. This arthritis is in an area of the spine called the Facet Joint. The nerves going to the facet joint are called Medial Branch Nerves and cause pain when inflammed by the arthritis. The doctor will recommend a Diagnostic Procedure called a Medial Branch Nerve Block to see if he can numb the medial branch nerve.
This is the same as a dentist numbing the nerves going to your tooth prior to giving you a filling. If the pain in your back goes away for a few hours, the doctor knows that he can find the nerve giving you pain and will recommend that you have a Radiofrequency procedure where he can knock out the nerve causing you pain for up to two years.