A Comprehensive Guide to Pain Clinics: What Should You Expect?

Did you know that 19% of adults in India suffer from one form of chronic pain?

It is a growing problem, and acute and chronic pain have far-reaching physical, emotional and psychological implications.

This is why addressing pain is paramount, as it alleviates immediate discomfort and enhances patients’ overall well-being and quality of life. Failing pain management can lead to increased stress, disrupted sleep, reduced mobility, and even the development of secondary health issues. Besides these, different types of pain can also profoundly impact mental health, causing anxiety, depression, and a diminished sense of self-worth.

By addressing pain promptly and comprehensively, individuals can regain control over their lives, improve their daily functioning, and prevent the negative cascading effects that poorly managed pain can trigger. This underlines the need for healthcare providers to employ a holistic approach that combines medical interventions, psychological support, and lifestyle adjustments to address pain and enable individuals to lead fulfilling lives effectively.

Pain management clinics serve the purpose of providing specialised medical care to individuals who are dealing with acute or chronic pain. These clinics are staffed with healthcare professionals and pain management experts who diagnose, evaluate and treat different types of pain.

Pain management clinics primarily aim to assist patients in achieving enhanced pain control, increasing their quality of life, and improving their overall functioning.

In this blog, we will talk about what you can expect from pain management clinics, how to prepare yourself for a visit, the questions you can ask for chronic pain and if there are any procedures involved for treating chronic pain on the first visit.

Why visit a pain management clinic?

Here are some key purposes of pain management clinics:

  • Comprehensive diagnoses and assessment: Pain management clinics offer thorough assessments to determine your chronic pain’s underlying causes and contributing factors. This often involves a combination of medical history review, physical examination, diagnostic tests, and imaging studies to pinpoint the source of pain.
  • Tailored treatment plans: Pain management specialists work with other medical experts to develop individualised treatment plans based on the assessment and diagnoses. These plans may incorporate a variety of approaches, including medications, physical therapy, interventional procedures, psychological support, and lifestyle modifications.
  • Medication management: Pain management clinics provide expert guidance on the appropriate use of medications to control pain. This includes prescribing appropriate pain relievers, adjusting dosages, and monitoring potential side effects or interactions.
  • Interventional procedures: In some cases, pain management clinics offer interventional procedures such as nerve blocks, injections, and minimally invasive surgical techniques to target specific sources of pain and provide relief.
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation: Pain management clinics often include physical therapists specialising in helping patients improve their physical functioning and mobility through exercises and therapies tailored to their specific pain conditions.
  • Psychological support: Chronic pain may significantly affect an individual’s psychological well-being. Pain management clinics may offer counselling, cognitive-behavioural therapy, and other psychological interventions to help patients cope with pain’s emotional and psychological aspects.
  • Multidisciplinary approach: Many pain management clinics adopt an interdisciplinary approach, where healthcare professionals from different specialities collaborate to provide comprehensive care. This team may include pain physicians, physical therapists, psychologists, care managers, etc.
  • Education and self-management: Pain management clinics empower patients with knowledge about their condition and pain management techniques. Patients learn about self-care strategies, coping mechanisms, and lifestyle changes that aid in managing pain more effectively.
  • Monitoring and follow-up: Pain management clinics often provide ongoing monitoring and follow-up appointments to track the effectiveness of the treatment plan and make necessary adjustments based on the patient’s progress.
  • Improving the quality of life: Ultimately, the overarching purpose of pain management clinics is to improve patient’s quality of life by reducing pain intensity, enhancing functionality, and enabling individuals to engage in daily activities with greater ease.

It’s important to note that pain management clinics vary in their scope of services and the specific treatments and approaches they offer. It may differ based on the clinic’s specialisation and the expertise of the healthcare professionals offering their services at the clinics.

Pre-Visit Preparation to a Pain Management Centre

Preparing for your first visit to a pain management clinic is crucial to ensure you make the most of your appointment and receive effective care. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you prepare for your visit:

  1. Gather medical information: Collect all relevant medical records, including imaging reports, lab results, and previous treatment plans related to your pain condition. This information will help the pain management specialist understand your medical history.
  2. Create a symptom history: Note details about your pain, including when it started, the location, intensity (on a scale of 1 to 10), duration, and any factors that trigger or alleviate it.
  3. Medication list: List all the medications you are currently taking, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and supplements. Include dosages and frequency so that pain doctors can help alleviate your pain faster.
  4. Past treatments: Document any treatments you have tried for pain relief, like medications, physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, injections, surgeries, etc. Include what worked and what didn’t.
  5. Questions to ask your pain management superspecialists: Prepare a list of questions for your pain management specialist. These include inquiries about your diagnosis, treatment options, potential side effects, prognosis, and long-term management.
    1. What could be causing my pain?
    2. What are the potential treatment options for my condition?
    3. What are the benefits and risks associated with each treatment option?
    4. How can I manage my pain on a day-to-day basis?
    5. Are there any lifestyle changes that might help alleviate my pain?
    6. What should I anticipate regarding relief from pain and the recovery process?
  6. Dress comfortably: Wear loose and comfortable clothing to allow easy movement during physical examinations and assessments.
  7. Personal information: Bring your identification, insurance cards, and any necessary forms or paperwork the clinic requires.
  8. Supportive accompaniment: Bring a friend or family member to the appointment. They can provide emotional support, take notes, and help you remember important details.
  9. Allergy and sensitivity information: Let the clinic staff know about any allergies, sensitivities, or adverse reactions you’ve had to medications or treatments in the past.
  10. Nutritional and lifestyle details: Provide information about your diet, exercise routine, sleep patterns, stress levels, and any other lifestyle factors that may contribute to your pain.
  11. Pain journal: Maintain a pain journal for a week before your visit. Note the time, location, triggers, intensity, and activities you were engaged in when the pain occurred. This can help the specialist identify patterns and potential triggers.
  12. Accessibility needs: If you have any mobility issues or accessibility needs, inform the clinic beforehand so they can accommodate you appropriately.
  13. Arrive early: Try to arrive a little early at the pain management centre to complete the necessary paperwork and ensure you’re on time for your appointment.
  14. Be open and honest: During your visit, be open and honest about your pain, symptoms, and concerns. Clear communication will help the specialist understand your situation better.
  15. Future plans: Discuss your expectations and goals for pain management with the specialist. This will help them tailor a treatment plan that aligns with your needs and preferences.

Remember, your first visit is an opportunity for the pain management specialist to gather comprehensive information about your condition. The more information you provide, the better they can customise a treatment plan to address your pain and improve your quality of life.

Scheduling the Appointment

Scheduling an appointment for your first visit to a pain management clinic involves a few steps. Here’s a general guide on how to go about it:

  1. Research and selection: Start by researching pain management clinics in your area. Look for clinics that specialise in your specific type of pain or condition. You can make use of online search engines and refer to healthcare directories for assistance. Getting recommendations from your primary care physician, friends, and family can also be very helpful. Consider factors like clinic reputation, doctors’ expertise, and patient reviews. For example, for a pain management centre in Delhi, you can search on Google to get your nearby clinics.
  2. Contact the clinic: Once you’ve identified a clinic you’re interested in, get their contact information from their website or other sources. You can call the clinic or check if they offer online appointment scheduling through their website.
  3. Provide information: When you call the clinic, be prepared to provide basic information such as your full name, contact number, address, and insurance details (if applicable). You should also briefly overview your pain condition and any relevant medical history.
  4. Appointment availability: Ask the clinic about their earliest available appointment slots. Depending on the clinic’s schedule and your urgency, you might have to choose from a range of available dates and times.
  5. Preparation instructions: The clinic might provide specific instructions for your first visit. This could include information about any medical records you must bring, medications you’re currently taking, pre-appointment tests, and whether you should avoid eating or drinking anything before the appointment.
  6. Confirmation: Once you’ve selected a suitable appointment time, confirm the details with the clinic. Ensure you understand the appointment’s location, date, and time. You might receive an email, text, or call confirming the appointment.
  7. Paperwork: Be prepared to fill out some paperwork on your first visit. This might include patient information, medical history, insurance, and consent forms. If required, arrive before your appointment to complete these forms.
  8. Medical records and referrals: If you have any relevant medical records or referrals from your primary care doctor, please bring them along. These records offer crucial information about your medical history, allowing the pain management specialist to better understand your condition. 
  9. First visit: On the day of your appointment, arrive on time and be prepared to discuss your pain condition in detail with the doctor. They will mostly ask questions about your symptoms, pain level, triggers, and any previous treatments you’ve tried.

Consultation with the Pain Specialist

Meeting with a pain management specialist during your first visit to a pain management clinic can be crucial in addressing and managing your pain. Here’s what you might expect during your consultation:

  • Ask questions: Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you’ve prepared. It’s important to understand your condition and the recommended treatment options fully.
  • Medical history review: Firstly, the pain management specialist will go through your medical history – this will include any previous diagnoses, treatments, surgeries, medications, and medical conditions. This helps them understand the context of your pain and its potential causes.
  • Pain assessment: The specialist will inquire about your pain, including its location, intensity, quality (sharp, dull, burning, etc.), duration, and any factors that worsen or alleviate it. This information helps the specialist determine the nature of your pain and potential contributing factors.
  • Functional assessment: The specialist may ask how your pain affects your daily activities, mobility, sleep, and overall quality of life. This assessment helps them understand the impact of pain on your functioning and lifestyle.
  • Diagnostic review: If you have any relevant medical imaging or test results, the specialist will review them to understand your condition better.
  • Physical examination: A physical exam may assess the affected area, evaluate a range of motion, identify tender points, and check for any physical signs related to your pain.
  • Discussion of treatment goals: You and the specialist will discuss your goals for pain management. These include reducing pain intensity, improving functional abilities, enhancing overall well-being, and minimising reliance on pain medications.
  • Discussion of risks and benefits: The specialist will explain the recommended treatments’ potential risks, benefits, and expected outcomes. This discussion helps you make informed decisions about your pain management plan.
  • Long-term plan: Usually, chronic pain cannot be solved in a single visit. This is why pain specialists will work with you to develop a long-term strategy for managing your pain, which might involve ongoing appointments, treatment adjustments, and monitoring progress.
  • Follow-up: Depending on the complexity of your condition and the chosen treatment plan, the specialist will measure your progress, schedule follow-up appointments, and make any necessary adjustments. This ensures that your pain management goals are being met.

Open communication with the pain management specialist is key to achieving the best results. Be prepared to discuss your concerns, ask questions, and actively participate in developing your pain management plan.

Diagnostic Tests

When you visit a pain management clinic, here are some diagnostic tests you might be advised for your chronic pain. This might differ according to the pain type, duration, etc.

Physical Examination:

  • Purpose: A physical examination is the first step in assessing the patient’s overall health and identifying any visible signs of injury, inflammation, or abnormalities in the affected area. It helps the healthcare provider understand the location and nature of the pain.
  • Benefits: Provides initial information about the patient’s condition, guides further testing, and assists in making an accurate diagnosis.

Imaging Tests:


  • Purpose: X-rays are often used to visualise bones and identify fractures, dislocations, or joint abnormalities.
  • Benefits: Quick and non-invasive, X-rays are particularly effective for detecting bone-related issues.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging):

  • Purpose: MRI provides detailed images of soft tissues, such as muscles, ligaments, and nerves. It helps diagnose herniated discs, spinal cord issues, and soft tissue injuries.
  • Benefits: Offers a comprehensive view of soft tissue structures, allowing for accurate diagnosis of complex conditions.

CT (Computed Tomography) Scan:

  • Purpose: CT scans are used to visualise bone structures and soft tissues. They’re beneficial for identifying fractures, tumours, and bone-related issues.
  • Benefits: Provides detailed cross-sectional images, often more detailed than X-rays, aiding in precise diagnosis.


  • Purpose: Ultrasound is great for assessing soft tissue injuries, joint inflammation, and conditions affecting tendons, muscles, and ligaments.
  • Benefits: Real-time imaging, portability, and non-invasiveness make ultrasound versatile for evaluating musculoskeletal issues.

Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS) and Electromyography (EMG):

  • Purpose: NCS measures how well nerves transmit electrical signals, while EMG assesses the electrical activity of muscles. Both tests help diagnose nerve-related problems, such as nerve compression or neuropathy.
  • Benefits: These tests can pinpoint the location and severity of nerve damage, aiding in formulating an effective treatment plan.

Blood Tests:

  • Purpose: Blood tests can identify underlying causes of pain, including infections, inflammation, autoimmune conditions, and metabolic disorders.
  • Benefits: Help identify systemic pain-related issues, guiding targeted treatment approaches.

Diagnostic Injections:

  • Purpose: Diagnostic injections involve injecting a local anaesthetic or anti-inflammatory medication into a specific area to determine if it’s the source of pain.
  • Benefits: By confirming the source of pain, healthcare providers can plan targeted interventions for effective pain relief.

Functional Tests:

  • Purpose: Functional tests assess how pain affects a patient’s daily activities, mobility, and physical capabilities.
  • Benefits: Provide insights into the impact of pain on a patient’s quality of life, aiding in developing a comprehensive pain management plan.

Psychological Assessments:

  • Purpose: These assessments evaluate the psychological factors influencing pain perception and management, such as depression, anxiety, or stress.
  • Benefits: Identifying psychological factors helps create a holistic treatment plan that addresses pain’s physical and emotional aspects.

Pain Diaries:

  • Purpose: Pain diaries help patients track their pain symptoms, triggers, and patterns over time.
  • Benefits: Provide valuable information for healthcare providers to understand the progression of pain, track treatment effectiveness, and adjust the pain management plan accordingly.

Treatment Options for Chronic Pain

Pain management involves various treatment options to alleviate or control acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) pain. Picking the right treatment option will depend on what is causing the pain, its severity, and the patient’s medical history. Here are some common pain management treatment options:


  • Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers: Non-prescription medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help manage mild to moderate pain.
  • Prescription medications: Stronger pain relievers, including opioids (like morphine, oxycodone) and non-opioid analgesics, might be prescribed for severe pain. However, opioids have the risk of dependence and side effects, so their use should be closely monitored.

Physical Therapy:

  • Exercise: Specific exercises and stretches can help improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion. This can be especially beneficial for musculoskeletal pain and certain types of chronic pain.
  • Manual therapy: Techniques like massage, joint mobilisation, and manipulation may lessen muscle tightness and help with symptoms related to pain.
  • Modalities: Heat, cold, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation are some modalities that alleviate pain and promote healing.

Interventional Procedures:

  • Injections: Epidural injections, nerve blocks, facet joint injections, and trigger point injections are examples of procedures that target specific areas to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Radiofrequency ablation: This procedure uses heat to destroy nerve fibres that transmit pain signals, relieving chronic pain conditions.

Alternative and Complementary Therapies:

  • Acupuncture: Thin needles are placed into particular spots on the body to activate nerves, which may help lessen the pain.
  • Chiropractic care: Manipulating the spine and joints to alleviate pain and improve musculoskeletal function.
  • Mind-body practices: Techniques like meditation, yoga, and mindfulness can help manage pain by promoting relaxation and reducing stress.

Psychological Approaches:

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): This therapy helps individuals manage pain by addressing negative thought patterns, emotions, and behaviours related to pain.
  • Relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery can help reduce pain-related stress and tension.

Surgical Interventions:

In some cases, surgical procedures may be necessary to address the underlying cause of the pain, such as herniated discs, joint problems, or structural issues.

Lifestyle Modifications:

  • Diet and exercise: Keeping a healthy weight and being consistent with physical exercise can aid in controlling specific kinds of pain. 
  • Sleep: Improving sleep hygiene and addressing sleep disturbances can positively impact pain management.
  • Stress management: Learning to manage stress through relaxation techniques and mindfulness can reduce pain perception.

It’s important to note that pain management should be tailored to the individual’s needs, and a multidisciplinary approach often yields the best results. Consulting with a healthcare professional, such as a pain specialist, is crucial to determine the most suitable treatment plan for your situation.

Set Goals for Pain Management

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you set realistic goals for pain management:

  • Assess your current pain situation: Evaluate your pain levels, how they affect your daily activities and any treatments you already undergo. Consider both physical and emotional aspects of pain.
  • Define specific goals: Be specific about what you want to achieve. Instead of a vague plan like “reduce pain,” set a clear goal: “reduce back pain by 20% within the next three months.”
  • Make your goals measurable: Use quantifiable measurements to track progress. For instance, you could measure pain levels on a scale of 1 to 10, track the number of days you experience severe pain, or monitor the amount of pain medication you use.
  • Set achievable goals: Make sure to set goals that are practical and reachable, as overly ambitious targets may cause frustration and letdown. Take into account your present situation, available treatment options, and lifestyle considerations. Align your goals with your overall health and quality of life, and establish a timeline for accomplishing them. For example, “Improve flexibility through regular stretching exercises within the next two months.”
  • Reassess and Revise: Regularly evaluate your goals and their progress. If you’re consistently meeting your goals, consider setting new ones that continue to challenge you.

Remember, pain management is a journey, and there will be ups and downs. Setting realistic goals increases your chances of effectively managing your pain while maintaining a positive outlook on your overall well-being. Always work closely with your healthcare team to ensure you’re on the right path.

Addressing Concerns and Asking Questions about Pain Management

When considering your first pain management treatment, gathering as much information as possible is important to guarantee that you make a knowledgeable choice and obtain suitable care. Here are some questions you might want to ask:

What is the underlying cause of my pain?

Identifying the underlying cause of your pain allows the care team to create a treatment plan that targets the source of the pain instead of merely dealing with the symptoms. 

What are the available treatment options?

Ask about different approaches to pain management, such as medication, physical therapy, injections, alternative therapies, or surgical interventions.

What are the potential benefits and risks of each treatment option?

This will help you weigh the benefits against any potential risks or side effects of each treatment.

What is the expected outcome of the treatment?

Knowing what kind of improvement you can expect from the treatment can help you set realistic expectations.

Are there any lifestyle changes I can make to complement the treatment?

Sometimes, changes in diet, exercise, and daily habits can positively impact pain management.

What are the potential side effects or complications of the treatment?

Being aware of possible side effects enables you to be better prepared and helps determine whether the treatment’s advantages are greater than the potential risks.


How long will the treatment take to show results?

Understanding that different treatments may provide relief at varying speeds can help you set and manage your expectations accordingly.

Are there any alternative or complementary therapies I could consider?

In some cases, combining different therapies might yield better results.

How will the treatment be administered?

Whether it’s oral medications, injections, or other methods, understanding how the treatment will be administered can help you prepare.

Are there any restrictions or precautions I must take during or after the treatment?

Some treatments might have specific guidelines to follow for optimal results and safety. Talking to your doctor about the treatment plans’ side effects is best.

What if the initial treatment doesn’t work? What’s the next step?

It’s essential to have a plan in place if the initial treatment doesn’t provide the desired results.

Can you explain the potential long-term implications of the treatment?

Understand how the treatment might impact you over the long term, including whether it’s a temporary or more permanent solution.

How will progress be monitored and evaluated?

Having a clear plan for tracking your progress and adjusting the treatment if necessary.

Next Steps

Arranging follow-up visits for pain management treatment is vital to make sure that patients get the right care and their pain is properly handled. Below is a basic guide that lists the process to follow for scheduling these appointments:

  • Post-initial treatment: Once your initial pain management appointment is done, your clinic should assess your condition regularly. This will also help to determine the frequency and type of follow-up appointments required.
  • Monitoring the progress of pain medicine or treatment: Once the initial assessments and treatment are done, your pain management clinic should assess your progress since the last visit. This will include evaluating the pain symptoms and the effectiveness of the treatment.
  • Adjustments to treatment: Based on your above progress and changes in your chronic pain condition, adjustments can be made to your therapy, medication and other interventions to manage chronic pain.
  • Keeping you posted: The follow-up appointments also educate you about treating your pain and self-management techniques.

Key Takeaways from Your First Visit

Pain clinics are a complex network of doctors and medical experts who provide an integrated treatment approach based on the Biopsychosocial Model of Pain. These clinics offer pain specialists, nutritionists, mindset counsellors and care managers to provide personalised care to your chronic pain.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pain Clinics

What is a pain clinic?

A pain clinic like that of Nivaan, Alleviate Now, or QIspine provides a whole-person approach to patients suffering from chronic pain. It can be defined as a  pain that usually lasts for three months or more and can be caused by various conditions, like, fractures, sports injuries, overexertions of muscles, cancer, arthritis, poor posture, nerve damage, etc. These pain clinics provide a multi-disciplinary approach involving a combination of diagnoses, physical therapy, medication, and nutritional changes to help reduce the pain the patient experiences.

How do you overcome chronic pain mentally?

There is a clear link between chronic pain and mental health. Patients suffering from chronic pain have been found to isolate themselves from their loved ones and have been found to develop depression and anxiety. Your pain clinic, therefore, should also offer regular sessions with trained therapists who can provide cognitive behavioural therapy or other forms of psychotherapy to help address negative thoughts and depression. These therapists also need to teach coping skills to your families to help them understand chronic pain and depression. 

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