What to expect at pain management – how to be a prepared patient

What to Expect at Pain Management Clinic


At some point in our lives, we all experience pain. Whether it’s acute or chronic, pain can be debilitating and impact our quality of life. If you’re dealing with persistent pain, your primary care physician may refer you to a pain management clinic. The thought of visiting a new medical facility can be intimidating, but we’re here to guide you through what to expect at your first pain management clinic visit.


Before Your Visit


Before you visit the pain management clinic, you’ll need to prepare some important medical records. This will help the doctors understand your medical history and develop a treatment plan that’s best suited for your individual needs. Some of the medical records that you should bring with you include:

  • Radiology reports (X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, etc.) – this is especially important if you are on opioid medications.  Most physicians need to see that there is actual objective pathology in order to justify the use of opioid medications.
  • Medical records from previous treatments
  • Medication history (including any prescription or over-the-counter medications you’re currently taking)
  • Surgical history
  • Allergies and sensitivities
  • Insurance information

It’s important to note that different clinics may have specific requirements, so be sure to check with your clinic beforehand to ensure you’re bringing all necessary documents.  If there is litigation involved with your pain complaint such as a personal injury, Workman’s Compensation claim, or disability case, make sure you let the pain management staff know prior to being seen by your doctor.  


what to expect at pain management


At Your Visit


When you arrive at the clinic, you’ll be asked to complete some paperwork, including your medical history and current symptoms. You may also be asked to complete a pain assessment questionnaire to help the doctors understand the severity of your pain.

Once you’ve completed your paperwork, you’ll be taken to an examination room. A nurse or medical assistant will take your vital signs, such as blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. You’ll then meet with a pain management specialist who will review your medical history and discuss your symptoms with you.

The doctor will likely perform a physical examination to assess your pain and identify any underlying conditions that may be contributing to your discomfort. They may also order additional tests, such as blood work or imaging tests, to help with the diagnosis.


Treatment Options


After your initial assessment, the doctor will discuss treatment options with you. The treatment plan will depend on the cause and severity of your pain, as well as your overall health and medical history. Some common treatment options may include:

  • Medications: Your doctor may prescribe pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, or other medications to help manage your pain.
  • Physical therapy: A physical therapist can help you improve your strength, flexibility, and mobility. They may also recommend exercises to help alleviate your pain.
  • Injections: Your doctor may recommend injections, such as corticosteroid injections, to help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat the underlying cause of your pain.


Urine Drug Testing


It’s important to note that most reputable pain management clinics may require urine drug testing for patients requesting opioids. This is to ensure that patients are taking their medications as prescribed and not abusing them. If you’re taking opioids or have a history of substance abuse, be sure to discuss this with your doctor.  Do not lie on your questionnaire if you have a history of drug abuse.  Honesty will go much further as the doctor will likely appreciate your honesty and thus develop a relationship of trust.


Follow-Up Visits


After your initial visit, you’ll likely be scheduled for follow-up appointments. These appointments are important to monitor your progress and adjust your treatment plan as needed. It’s important to attend these appointments and communicate any changes in your symptoms or concerns with your doctor.


Red flags to watch out for


  • You are not seen by a doctor – Many medical clinics are now staffed mostly by midlevel practitioners such as nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs).  Although many are very skilled and experienced in the field of pain management, your first consultation should always be with a physician.  This is where your treatment plan is created.  If you are not seen by an actual physician at your first visit, I would request to be seen by one.  Otherwise I would think twice about returning to that clinic.  
  • No urine drug testing done – The term “pill mill” was coined during the opioid epidemic of the last decade.  Some clinics are no more than drug dealing clinics with prescriptions signed by a medical practitioner.  Most of these clinics do not have you sign an opioid agreement or require drug testing.  




Visiting a pain management clinic can be a daunting experience, but it doesn’t have to be. By understanding what to expect at your first visit, you can feel more prepared and confident. Be sure to bring all necessary medical records and be open and honest with your doctor about your symptoms and medical history. With the right treatment plan, you can manage your pain and improve your quality of life.  

About the author: Rainier Guiang, MD is board certified in Pain Management and Anesthesiology and has been in academic and private practice since 1999.

Disclosure: The content on AskAPainDoctor.com may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive compensation for purchases made through those links.

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