Pain Clinic


I am due to go to a pain clinic for the first time. Any advice on what help I could ask for besides taking tablets as I want other options. It's for chronic back pain which is unbearable. Also for operational pain for something else but my priority is my back pain

I haven't had cortisone injections and was wondering weather that might help alongside any alternative types of help..

22 Replies

  • Hello

    Well if you are going to pain clinic fine, just take yourself along have you had an interview yet.

    If not make a list of what is going one with your body so that you get more out of the appointment that is all I can suggest.

    Possibly go with an open mind some things they will suggest are quite different and you will either love it or hate it.. All is very good

    All the best


  • Best of luck, Pain Clinic for me, 100 gabapentin - didn't work, 120 codeine - didn't work, 100 amitriptiline - didn't work.

    But hey that's me. Others found it useful. I would rather one or two tablets instead of a concoction of meds, then you are given meds to counteract the side effects :(

  • At the end of your pain clinic session, you will understand how pain works, how medication is supposed to work, how exercise helps your body and mind. You will be introduced to alternative therapies, some will work others won't.

    The pain clinic does not prescribe medication, its aim is to reduce the meds you are on and replace them with things that help you holistically. (an hour of massage may produce 20 mins of lesser pain, but it relaxes you for an hour). put enough of these things in your life and you become more relaxed and experience lesser pain because of it. When you are not focusing so much on the pain, you can find ways to make your life better by changing the way you do things.

    You will be required to put a lot of effort and emotion into the sessions and as with everything, the more you put in, the more you will gain from it.

    I have pelvic pain that was complicated by disc problems. I had the discs manipulated by a sports physio about 5 years ago and now I only get a dull ache there if I over do things. I manage my continuing pain with a mix of alternative therapies and do not take regular pain killers. This works for me, I've traded investing time to do things that help reduce the pain and increase my mental wellbeing, for being fogged up with medication and still having the same level of pain.

    Accepting your pain and working with it will help too.

  • Well said...! But will take a bit of self discipline as we suffer from constant pain.

    Worth the effort, though!


  • I agree with Bob about keeping an open mind. Pain clinics can be great but there is no one size fits all way of dealing with pain, so if something they suggest doesn't work for you, be prepared to have to go back & try something else.

    There are different types of pain clinic too - I think the type Zanna mentions are more about you getting an understanding of your pain and finding solutions to manage it that make everyday life easier. Others are much more medically focused, and although medication might be a part of the solution, they may also be able to offer you things like injections or acupuncture. Both have an important part to play.

    I am a pain clinic regular now, was initially very sceptical that they would help me, and although I have had my ups and downs in going through the process - including trying lots of things that didn't help - I wouldn't be doing that well now without them. The other thing to remember is that they are about pain "management" rather than a complete cure.

    Start keeping a list of what your pain feels like & where it is, what makes it worse, what medication etc you've tried already. This information will help them.

    Good luck.

  • Rocky 1

    My wife has been going to pain clinic at the Royal Edinburgh for some time now, so far no real help, it is a must to note all your pains and the site/s they seem to respond better if it is written down and they can keep a copy, also what medication you have been on, I keep all my wifes record on computer even a list of drugs that caused problems i the past. Six months ago they put her on Pregabalin no help for pain and packed on the weight (one lady on this site put on 3 stone in 3 months) they took my wife of this and put her on Tapentadol, just started taking them, but in the 2 days she has stopped Pregabalin she has lost a few pounds.


  • Hi Jack, Just reading your post.Did you mean the Western General Hospital? The Royal Edinburgh Hospital is a Psychiatric Hospital.Why was your wife on Pregabalin?

    I am on Gabapentin and Tapentadol for Trigeminal Neuralgia, from the pain clinic at the WGH, and I am puting on weight and dont like it but the pain is worse. I get fed up as does most of us of all this medication and nothing seems to work

    Kind regards to you and your wife

    Moggiemay x.

  • Rocky 1

    I forgot she also had injections in her back for pain prior to the two drugs I mentioned no relief.

    Sad to say but i think if you have back pain you have back pain no one I know has had permanent relief.


  • I have a different view, Nicotinejack.

    I see "permanent" relief all the time. I'm an example of it.

    If people are using their bodies, (at the computer for instance) badly, they are causing their own pain. If they start using their bodies (often necks and backs) better, they stop causing their pain. No matter what you end up doing, Rocky1, check out the Alexander Technique.

  • Thanks for all your replies. The pain clinic ended up being a five minute chat and not much about the ins and outs of pain. I thought it might look into holistic options and be more personal and on a week to week basis to also help manage the pain. The outcome was to try some injections in my back to see if it eases the pain.. I guess I thought there would be lots of alternatives too although it's worth giving the injections a go..I have tried some of the alternatives he mentioned. so will see if this helps. Won't happen straight away so will probably have to wait a few months. it's a shame I can't get a pain management weekly group to talk about the pain and so on. it all felt very clinical! But I appreciate they are trying. I just want to try and do what I can in the mean time.

  • That must have felt very disappointing. I know it's frustrating being offered only one thing at the moment, and then having to wait ages for the injections. YOu can feel very abandoned and let down, but try to hang on in there. I went to the pain clinic for a long time and tried many things before hitting on the right thing for me. I think part of the problem is that (a) it does run on a medical system so you can really only try one thing at a time if that's how they do it, and (b) the NHS has waiting lists for treatments, which at some pain clinics are massive.

    None of this feels very helpful when all you want is relief from your pain now.

    You are right in that you can do stuff in the meantime, even if that means small things like keeping moving as much as you can. Keep talking to us here and we'll try to help and offer moral support. When my pain was at its worst this forum didn't exist so I started a diary - it just helped to have somewhere to write down how grotty it was (with some imaginative expletives) and get it off my chest, but coming on here was much better.

    Take care, keep on going.

  • Hi Rocky my problen is my legs and the pain that I get with them, after my 2nd visit at the Pain Clinic my medication was increased from 75mg of pregabalin up to 3x100mg also a Tens mchine was given to me. So as for your visit I hope that you get a result.

  • my experience with the pain clinic has been wonderful/ I have seen the psychologist many times, seen the TENS lady, seen the physio and the relaxation lady. The time I have had with the consultant is second to none she has taken much time to explain my condition and that there is no cure and that it is learning how to manage it. She has spent a long time discussing the facet and sacro illiac injections which I have had with great relief for approx 9 mths. I am due again and on her list and although the worst pain I have ever had the effects are fantastic. The problem I have is with the medication as I have put about 4 stone on with the Gabapentin, I also take ibruprofen, paracetemol, oxycodone, mirtazepine, omaprazole, oramorph, gaviscon, so a real cocktail.

    I would be inclined to ring the consultants secretary and just explain that you didnt feel you had the opportunity to have your say or ask any questions. I would suggest that you go with the pain clinic programme as its the physio who usually goes through what the condition really is.

    Best of luck x

  • there are different types of pain clinics- some are simply a medical specialist who will look at what procedures and or medications can be helpful, others are what are referred to as multidisciplinary clinics, this means there are teams of different specialists, including the pain specialist, psychologists or psychiatrist, physio, Occupational therapists, social workers and possibly others. these clinics can seem sow to get going as you have a series of interviews and fill in a variety of questionaires to help them work out how best to help you, they then meet as a team and discuss the best options- they will often want to speak to those close to you to get their perspective of how the pain affects daily life.

    this is the type of cllinic that will then generally give you education often by group courses with other patients to help you understand the complexities of chronic pain and ways you can modify your thinking and your lifestyle to make life easier and more comfortable- so they effectivly make you an active art of the team in your own care.

    i have had chronic pain problems for over 30 yrs and the first pain unit i went to was a big disappointment, then i went to another and they have been helping me for about 15 yrs now in fact i do not know where i would be without them. there are still ups and downs but most of the times i have the tools to deal with the problems myself. in my case i have an inplanted pump that gives medication directly to the fluid around the spine, i also take some other medications that help with neuropathic pain but these are only part of it- the rest is learning to pace yourself with activities, learning to set small goals to try to reach the final point rather than aiming for the end in one jump(if that makes sense), i still have times when its hard to sleep and relying on meds for that leads me to feel off the next day so i have learn relaxation techniques that help instead- even if i do not get to sleep i can still feel rested and refreshed.

    it may be that the person who saw you felt that a procedure may give lasting relief and that this other aproach is not needed in your case but rather than trying to assume, go back toyour GP and discuss it- tell your GP you were hoping to learn some other techniques to control your own pain rather than rely soley on medication but be aware yor self that often it takes a combination of both approaches- i think most GP's would be refresshed an pleased to have a proactive patient who want to take part in their own care - ask about a pain clinic that uses the multidisciplinary approach

    not sure how things are in the UK these days but i live in australia and the sad thing is that there are not enough of these clnics to meet demand so waits of 12 months are quite common- i hope that is not the case for you- good luck

  • I agree with a few of the comments above that it is a mixture of both medication (unfortunately) and other therapies and of course not forgetting personal well being has a lot to answer for. I have been going to my pain clinic now for almost 3 years and I first I didn't think it was effective for helping me but I now don't know where I would be without them. Once they get to know you better and fully understand what you are having to deal with they should offer you lots more solutions. I have received acupuncture, TENS machine treatment, countless different physiotherapy treatments,lidocaine patches, nerve block in my arm and a nerve block in my neck all to no avail but they still keep trying to find something to help. I know receive lidocaine infusions every 4 weeks and it definitely helps to take the edge of things (which is a great relief after trying so much stuff and feeling like you are getting nowhere). I hope that this helps to show you shouldn't give up hope that they won't help you as my pain clinic have been the only ones out of all the specialists I have seen to actually help me and I truly feel that they want to help and go out their way to do this for me. I am still a long way off feeling better as things have went a bit downhill recently and I am back on 16 pills a day as well as my infusions and some days it is really hard to see any way back from this but I does take time and we all have to keep in mind that one day things will get better. I hope this helps. X

  • Thank you for all your answers, For me it has been so hard accepting the pain especially as I don't have all the answers. I guess it's also being able to come to terms with pain which is hard too. I need to start to try and distract myself more and maybe look at alternatives which will help relax me which I haven't been able to do.

    I think everyone who has had pain for so many years is so brave as I have only had it a year but have found having pain non stop without any pain relief (nothing has helped yet) has been so hard for me. I'm not as strong as I should be really, compared to others.

  • Don't put yourself down. Having pain is something that is very hard to except and deal with. It took me time to adjust as well and I am still not fully accepting to it. You will get there and there will be something out there that helps to take the edge of it for you. I know it's hard but never forget that one day things will get better. I am new to these pain forum blogs but I already feel better having people to speak to that can relate and understanding what I have to deal with. I hope it helps for you and that the pain clinic find a treatment that helps too.x

  • having chronic pain is hard to accept, we all wish there would be something that would simply fix the pain we have- after all that is the way we have ben brought up to think of pain- that something is broke, when its fixed it will not hurt- sadly the truth as people like us are finding out -is somewhat different! chronic pain serves no purpose- it just is.

    you hit the nail on the head when spoke of distracting yourself, that is a valuable tool as is pacing yourslef with activites that may cause problems. the worse thing we can do is just cease activity, instead you learn to pace yourself. There are a lot of tools the pain clinics can teach you about. if they have not mentioned it too you perhaps google the term "chronic pain toolkit"- you may find it useful

    don't be hard on yourself, it really is not about being strong or weak its about having the right tools now i have been dealing with this stuff a long time but its not all one steady line- intially it was pretty unpleasant to say the least- then we got things under control more or less but then later i was diagnosed with MS, that raised diffrernt pain issues - i eventually had a really bad fall and fractured my spine (2 crush fractures) that have left me with spinal stenosis and nerve impingement- severe sciatica type pain down both legs and i had my right leg amputated some yrs back and get phantom pain from that- now i am no stronger than you - i have medication that helps a lot then there are skills i have been taught to cope- even so i had a flair up recently- i having been sleeping in a recliner while i wait for funding for an adjustable bed (i cna't lie flat) and the recliner that had been custom made died and could not be fixed so they gave me a temporay chair but it was nothing like my original and it has stirred things up. i can tell you i did struggle but at least i had afew more tools i could use to try to get through the worst and they have altered my medications a bit to help out. the important thing is that you learn how to be part of the team as you are the person liveing with the pain all the time. just hang in there and things will improve

  • Moggiemay

    My wife has had several scans at the Western but the Royal Edinburgh operated on her corroted artery and took out my sons Gallstones. She was put on pregabalin by the specialist at the Royal for her back pain and when that did not work he changed it to tapentadol which made her sick with bad headaches. Jack

  • Hi Jack, I have tracked you down, I am new to this site, I am sorry to be pedantic but I think you mean the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh at Little France, They do the vascular surgery there. The Royal Edinburgh is in Morningside.

    Has your wife tried Lidocaine patches for her back pain?? The Trade name for them is Versatis,It is a local anaesthetic like you get at the Dentists. Kind regards to you and your wife Moggiemay x

  • Moggiemay

    You are right I am wrong, I always thought there was only one Royal, we have been in Scotland, Livingston, for 7 year now, born in Fulham, London, then Essex for the previous 73 years of my life. I came on to this site for my wife and when I read of others problems I count my blessings as I only have slight arhtritus in hips and neck other than that I am remarkably well. It's a great site being able to hear individuals experiences of drugs and medical problems. she has tried patches but did not get on with them, thank you

  • I had my first pain clinic 2 months ago, The doctor asked me a lot of questions about where the pain was, what the pain was like. He then examined me in the area the pain was which was the pelvic area then he asked me to sit up, he then felt my lower back where I had pain but because the pain in my pelvic area hurt more I never took much notice of the back pain until he touched the area and I nearly shot off the bed it hurt that bad. He then asked if I had ever fell down the stairs, which I had 14 years ago just before the pain started, again I never thought anything about it. He then said that when I had fell I had indeed damaged my back, he prescribed me lyrica to go along with the morphine and other meds I had been prescribed and also made me an appointment for a series of epidural injections which I start in June.

    I hope everything goes ok for you

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