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Everything you need to know about pain centers

Feb 20, 2024

Pain is a universal experience, but sometimes difficult to treat. Whether acute or chronic, pain can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life, affecting not only their physical well-being, but also their emotional and social well-being. In this incessant quest to relieve pain, pain centers have emerged as essential pillars in the care of patients suffering from chronic pain.

What is a pain center?

A pain center is an establishment specializing in the treatment of chronic pain. Its main objective is to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients suffering from persistent, complex pain that has not responded to conventional treatments. These centers therefore intervene when usual analgesic treatments fail to relieve chronic pain.

Typically, these structures are made up of a multidisciplinary team of health professionals , including doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, psychologists and other specialized therapists. This team is expert in the assessment and treatment of pain, providing a holistic approach to help patients better manage their chronic pain.

Centers specializing in the treatment of chronic pain meet specific standards and are accredited by the Regional Health Agencies (ARS) in their region. This accreditation is renewed every five years, ensuring high standards of quality and care for patients.

Missions of pain centers

Pain centers are dedicated to relieving chronic pain, which can significantly affect patients' quality of life. These centers offer a diverse range of specialized and personalized treatments aimed at reducing pain, improving functionality and restoring quality of life. They therefore represent a glimmer of hope for patients confronted with intractable pain, resistant to conventional management approaches. Their approach is based on a bio-psycho-social model, involving an in-depth assessment followed by often multimodal treatment, aimed at promoting rehabilitation.

Additionally, pain centers play a vital role in educating patients about the nature of pain, available treatment options, and self-management strategies. This allows patients to better understand their condition and actively participate in its care.

Approaches to this structure

Pain centers are distinguished by their comprehensive, specialized and multidisciplinary approach to pain management. Unlike traditional methods which generally favor pharmacotherapy, these centers adopt a holistic approach by combining various treatment modalities adapted to each patient such as interventional and psychological therapies.

Each center offers individualized care , starting with an in-depth initial assessment, possibly including several consultations. This assessment, focused on various bio-psycho-social aspects, guides the development of a personalized therapeutic project . This project is regularly reassessed and adjusted throughout the treatment, in close collaboration with the treating physician, who remains an essential partner and is kept informed of developments in the situation.

Given that chronic pain impacts many aspects of daily life, all its consequences are taken into account in order to implement appropriate solutions to mitigate its effects. For example, psychological aspects can be treated with a psychologist or psychiatrist, while socio-professional and financial problems can be discussed with a social worker if necessary.

How to access pain centers?

Patients are referred to the specialized chronic pain structure (SDC) in their healthcare area by their attending physician and/or a specialist , using a liaison letter. This approach cannot therefore be undertaken independently by the patient. This orientation is based on a complete initial clinical examination, as well as on specialist opinions and additional examinations previously carried out in order to establish a precise diagnosis. This necessity highlights the importance of diagnosing all pain, as effective management depends on determining its underlying cause.

Then, the patient is often asked to complete an orientation questionnaire and return it to the secretariat of the specialized structure. In certain cases, a consultation may be requested as a priority using a specific addressing form.

Requests for referral to pain centers can also be initiated by structures specializing in chronic pain themselves. These orientations may be motivated by various reasons such as a multidisciplinary consultation meeting, a complementary evaluation with or without additional exploration, or the carrying out of specific technical acts which can only be carried out within a level 3 center. .

In short, pain centers play a vital role in the management of chronic pain by offering personalized and multidisciplinary approaches aimed at relieving pain, improving functionality and restoring patients' quality of life. Despite ongoing challenges such as long wait times, these centers remain a source of hope for those suffering from chronic pain, contributing to better pain management and, by extension, improved quality of care. life.

References :

High Authority of Health. (February 14, 2023). Health journey of a person with chronic pain.

Regional Health Agency. (May 11, 2023). Pain assessment and treatment structures.

French Society for the Study and Treatment of Pain. Specialized structures (SDC).

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