Pain Clinic referral

At last, after 2 years of serious pain, my GP has referred me to the Pain Clinic.

I hope I'm not overestimating the extent to which this will help.

Can anyone with experience of Pain Clinics please let me know what to expect, for example:

- What happens at the first appointment? Is it just a chat, or do they do diagnostic tests as well?

- Do they prescribe different drugs, or just the same old, same old (gabapentin, tramadol, pregabalin)?

- Do they refer you on for physiotherapy, or other physical treatments?

- In your experience, does the Pain Clinic actually make a difference to your ability to walk, clean the house or go out for a meal without unbearable levels of pain?

Any advice gratefully received!

17 Replies

  • They're focused on pain management, so medication & coping strategies. I've had two sessions 4 years apart:

    1. Was semi positive. Got me on amitriptyline, which really helped. As for coping strategies, it was you're an intelligent guy, you don't need to talk to me.

    2. Was a disaster. Early on I could see that she was doubting the level of pain I was in. She refused any stronger medication, even for breakthrough pain, criticised my current medication. Then insulate that I'm addicted.

    Needless to say I will not be seeing that specialist again (it was only last month), and have another meeting this month. I'm feeling positive!

    I do recommend that you keep a journal recording your symptoms and how it effects you (it's hard for them to ascertain how you are on a bad day).

  • I forgot to add.. You shouldn't be in unbearable amounts of pain (I've been suicidal), their job is to try and get you the best quality of life possible.

  • At first they were helpful, but the start of this they told me that there was a replacement for the Morphene I was on. But some 3 months on that there no such medication and I was that my pain was horrible but not harmful and discharged me. Since then I have that they have been under great pressure to cut there work load. I hope you get on better than I have.

  • Hi JeffMett ...seems to nationwide they are cancelling appointments and this is not good news...please see my other posts on this issue...hope you are having a better day


  • Don't expect too much. they mainly are a respource for those of us with chronic conditions who have nowhere else to go, so their aim to to help you manage your symptoms and pain to the best of your ability, this may be via counselling, CBT, looking at your pain medications or possibly referrals for acupuncture. I've been going to my pain consultant for years now and find talking therapy really useful, but it depends on who you get. Mine isn't all about mindfulness, like most, so I can respect mine, but he also admits that most of the pain specialist havent suffered chronic pain themselves so they can never really understand what it feels like to know you will live with pain for the rest of your life and cope with it daily. As regards med etc I don't find them useful as they don't really care about side effects etc. But you may find some part useful. It all depends on th individual patient and the individual therapist in whatever form you have. Good luck.

  • Hi mcfifi, I've been under the pain management clinic at my local hospital on and off for years. They can offer all types of pain relief probably starting with your medication, TENS machines, physio, relaxation classes, and injections and denervation procedures. I have done all of these, the last resort was steroid injections which only offered a week's relief at most. I was last seen in June and I was offered RF freezing of the nerves (denervation) I am still waiting for the appt and in the meantime I've seen the spinal surgeon in my local hospital orthopaedics dept and I've already been given an appt with them for fusion on my spine and corrective discectomy as I have a recurrence. Waits for and between appts and procedures are notoriously long at my hospital, I hope it's better at yours. They will try conservative methods first and work through to more invasive procedures.

    When I saw the spinal surgeon who did my original extensive work on a slipped disc in 2012 he asked why I hadn't had another operation yet because the disc slipped again in 2013, confirmed by MRIs in 2014 and 2017 - he offered it straight away. I mean how can medication cure a slipped disc and degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis/porosis. Very good luck in your journey with pain management xx

  • I have now been referred to the 4th pain clinic the first 2 gave me nerve blocking injections that didn't work and the 3rd one changed 1 of my meds and didn't offer CBT. So I'm now waiting for an appointment to the 4th pain clinic. Still in agony and on a lot of meds including high dosage of morphine.

  • No different pain clinics are useless with everyone I've talked to but they can offer a tens machine or try and convince you the pains in your head or tell you to manage your pain better that's about it.

  • They tried that with me, tried to say it was my attitude towards pain and that it was in my mind and I could overcome it, that is until they saw the MRIs!

  • I was under the pain clinic about 10 years ago for my back.i had regular cortisone injections every 6 months .

    They helped a lot.

    They also gave me pain management sessions.

    I'm now waiting for an urgent appointment for an injection for a trapped nerve in my neck and I hope I get the same results

  • It is heartbreaking for me to read the posts of the kind people who are in such pain. Its sad that there are so few physicians that will help. I am blessed to have a wonderful physician who has given me my life back. I was seeing my Neurologist for my pain for two years. He then referred me to the pain management center in his huge Neurology practice. The first visit I was given a comprehensive examination. He also looked at my arms, teeth & nose to rule out I was not just a pill seeker. Then he looked at my medical records, checked the states prescription drug monitoring program to make sure I was taking what I told him & no other drugs. He immediately upped my pain meds & put me on an extended release pain med. He ordered a few tests. Through the years he has changed my medicine when I asked him to. I have injections/epidurals every 3 months but they only last a couple weeks. I take a random drug test a couple times a year now, instead of every two months when I was a new patient. I was very concerned when I heard about these new opiod laws and expressed that to him. He explained that in our state (NC) that it is a recommendation and that the ax was falling on dentist and family/ personal care physicians. He also explained that if there is proof (current test results, past medical test results & records) that he can treat his patients in whatever manner he deems the most helpful and helps his patients. He took an oath to ease sufferring and thats what he will always do. So I guess what Im saying is that, sadly, your care depends on the Physician you see. They should all remember the what oath they took after med school & to ease sufferring is important. It seems odd that any physician should even have to take an oath of such. To ease sufferring is what I always thought was a doctors job.

  • I have been very blessed with my pain clinic, but I think that they can be all very different (you need to be lucky). I started of by seeing a anaesthetist who reviewed my medication , referred me for scans, specialist, injections, and pain physio. I also did a course to learn about the science of pain and help me manage my pain (pacing)

    I also saw a pain psychiatrist, NOT because they don't believe that I'm in a lot of pain. But he helped me deal with the loss that comes along with pain, loss of my job, loss of dreams, loss of mobility, loss of identity and independence etc.

    At the moment I'm trying a course of mindfulness and kindness, it's something that will not cure the pain/physical sensations (primery suffering) but hopefully it will help me with the secondary suffering (frustration, sadness, exhaustion, isolation, self pity, why me? questions, emotions, disappointments etc.)

    The pain clinic has not helped my mobility (still don't walk more than 10 meters without stopping). The main thing that has helped me is pacing and I'm able to do much more stuff now than before attending the clinic (going out, hobbies, holidays, housework)

    It is also helpful to meet others in a similar situation, who understand what you are going through. The whole staff at the clinic have been great and I never felt judged or not listened too.

    I really hope it's going to be beneficial for you too. Take care x

  • The pain clinic didn't help me.

    I asked to Try different medications but the nurse couldn't prescribe. I had to think of another medication, instead of the nurse. Then she had to ask my GP. I'm thinking what is the point of the service. Apparently, I ought to have a schedule, so a doctor, physio, CBT etc. Nothing at all. No letter or reply to my GP.

  • Sorry it didn't work for you. I don't understand why you saw a nurse and not an anaesthetist (or other pain expert) who knows more about pain medication and can prescribe? In my years with the pain clinic I have never been seen by a nurse.

    Sorry you had a disappointing experience

  • It was pain management services- pms so apt 🙄

  • Could you ask to be referred to a different pain clinic and get a appointment with a specialist?

  • We've moved so that will help.

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