Why Accurate Pain Diagnosis is Important

Without an accurate diagnosis, it’s difficult to find an effective and specific treatment for the pain. We use diagnostic studies, physical examination, a detailed history of the pain (including duration of symptoms, locations and radiation of pain, signs of muscle weakness, sensory deficit, and any loss of bladder or bowel control) along with careful evaluation of past medical records, and past medication and treatments.

With an accurate diagnosis, it’s much easier to make an effective treatment plan for pain. Oftentimes, the patients that have been to our clinic have been to multiple physicians who have looked at parts of the person but don’t take the whole person into account. As pain management specialists, we take a comprehensive approach to the patient. A comprehensive evaluation often yields the answers to complex diagnostic problems that have eluded other clinicians.

If there are additional diagnostic studies that are required such as MRI scans, CT scans, x-rays, EMG nerve conduction studies or other studies, we order those and then add the results to the medical database. Basically, we are on the hunt for the specific pain generator in the body.

"As pain management specialists, we take a comprehensive approach to the patient. "

The concept of the pain generator is a concept that has recently added diagnostic specificity to the field of pain management. The concept is that there are number of structures that can cause pain.  Pain generators can be identified and accurately diagnosed by injecting local anesthetic which numbs the nerves and reduces transmission of the pain signals. We can assess whether the injection relieves the pain or not. If it does relieve the pain, then we can tell with certainty that the pain is caused by that structure. If there is no pain relief, then that structure can be ruled out as a pain generator. If there is partial pain relief, then that leads us to believe that that structure may be responsible for some part of the pain but not all of the pain. If there is complete relief of pain then we may well have determined the pain generator.

Accurate diagnosis is the key to identifying a specific and effective plan for treatment of pain.