Because of our strong interdisciplinary focus, the UW Pain Treatment and Research Center is well equipped to serve a wide variety of chronic pain patients, particularly those who also have functional and psychological difficulties related to their pain. Successful patients take an active role in their recovery and are committed to the holistic approach.
Patients with active psychosis or with ongoing substance abuse problems will not benefit from this pain program until those concerns are successfully treated.
When patients reach their treatment goals, care management returns to the original referring physician. Pain Center staff remain available for consultation.
Our diagnostic tools extend beyond traditional radiological and lab tests. The assessment options for our patients include:
- Neurological assessment
- Psychological assessment
- Electrodiagnostics (electromyography, nerve conduction studies, and small-fiber quantitative sensory testing)
- Musculoskeletal assessment (function, posture, biomechanics)
- Image-guided diagnostics to identify structures generating pain
- Autonomic testing (tilt-table testing and sympathetic skin response assessment)
Each Pain Center patient pursues a treatment program tailored to his or her problems and goals. While some programs emphasize one mode of treatment, most programs will integrate several of the following components.
Drug therapy can be targeted to address neuropathic, inflammatory, muscular, arthritic and other types of pain. Infusions or other non-oral means of drug administration are used as needed. Patients on pain medication receive careful follow-up.
Regional problems such as myofascial pain, localized arthropathies, tendonitis and overuse syndromes may be helped by soft tissue, joint and tendon sheath injections. Epidural steroid injections and sympathetic blocks are also available, along with a variety of image-guided techniques including:
- Selective nerve root block
- Facet and medial branch block
- Radio frequency neuroablation
- Sympathetic block
- Pain-control device implantation
- Intradiscal techniques
Rehabilitation and Functional Restoration
Postural, balance and other biomechanical problems may cause, perpetuate or result from chronic pain. Patients with these deficits may benefit substantially from an individualized functional restoration program that may include:
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Relaxation training
- Vocational rehabilitation
To improve insight and problem-solving skills and resolve psychological co-morbidities of chronic pain, patients may require individual or family psychotherapy, group therapy, relaxation training, biofeedback or other methods.
The intensity of the program can be adjusted. For example, highly motivated patients may be best suited to a program with weekly instructions, supplemented by independent work at home. Patients with more complex pain problems, however, are likely to need more concentrated and comprehensive care.
The Pain Center also offers subspecialty programs for back or neck pain, headache, fibromyalgia, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, pre- or post-surgical pain, spinal stenosis, and arthritis.