Frequently Asked Questions
The information provided here are for general and information purposes only. Information/Instruction may differ depending on your specific conditions and treatment. These FAQs are not to be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, nor do they establish a patient-physician relationship.
Pain Management FAQs
What is chronic pain?
Short-lived pain is called acute pain. This type of pain usually occurs following surgery or an injury, or during and after certain illnesses. Acute pain typically goes away after healing is complete. However, if your pain continues for a month or more following the recovery period, you might have chronic pain. Chronic pain may also last for months or years due to a chronic condition. While the pain may not be constant, it can interfere with all aspects of daily life.
What is pain management?
Pain management is a specialty that deals with chronic pain. At Greater Austin Pain Center, our team utilizes a coordinated approach to pain management, integrating treatments such as medication management, interventional procedures, physical therapy, behavioral therapy, and referrals to related specialists when necessary.
What is interventional pain management?
Interventional pain management is the use of minimally invasive procedures to diagnose and/or treat your pain. The providers at Greater Austin Pain Center perform a wide range of interventional procedures that help minimize or eliminate pain associated with arthritis, back pain, neck pain, muscle and joint pain, nerve pain, and more.
Is pain all in my head?
While emotional symptoms of anxiety or depression may manifest into physical symptoms of pain, pain is very real for most people. Many times it is difficult to diagnose a specific physical cause for the pain, but that does not mean it is “all in your head.”
When we experience pain, it has both physical and psychological effects. It is important to note that anxiety and depression can lower your pain tolerance and intensify your pain. That is why it is important for some people with chronic pain to also seek behavioral health therapy and treat the emotional issues associated with pain along with their physical pain issues.
What type of training does a pain medicine doctor have?
After earning a college degree, pain management specialists complete four years of medical school, followed by four years of residency training in one of four specialties: anesthesiology, neurology, psychiatry, or physical medicine and rehabilitation. While not mandatory, all of our physicians at Greater Austin Pain Center complete a year-long fellowship to subspecialize and obtain their board certification in pain medicine.
Anesthesiologists may become certified in pain medicine through the American Board of Anesthesiology, the only medical board to offer special credentials in pain medicine.
Do I need a referral to see the doctors?
If your insurance plan is an HMO, or other managed care plan, you will need an insurance authorization to be seen. You can obtain an authorization from your primary care physician (PCP). If your insurance plan allows you to be seen without an authorization(e.g.,PPO) then a referral is not usually necessary, although appreciated. Our doctors work closely with both your referring doctor and your PCP to ensure continuity of care.
When would I need to see a pain medicine doctor?
Pain medicine doctors are experts at diagnosing and treating pain from a wide range of causes. A pain management evaluation is recommended if:
- You experience chronic, recurring pain from an injury, illness, or condition
- You have cancer-related pain
- Your current pain treatment stops working
- Your pain worsens over time
- You have severe and long-lasting pain from surgery, a debilitating illness, or a serious accident or injury.
What types of pain medications are there?
Depending on your diagnosis, Dr. Silberberg and his team may recommend different types of pain medications as part of your treatment plan, including both oral medications (over-the-counter and/or prescription) or intravenous (IV) pain medications.
Oral medications can include:
- OTC or prescription strength acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol®)
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen (e.g., Motrin® or Aleve®)
- Narcotics (opioids)
- Anticonvulsants (e.g., gabapentin, pregabalin, or topiramate) to treat neuropathic or complex pain conditions
Besides taking medicine, what else can I do to manage my pain?
Pain medication is only one aspect of an effective pain management plan. There are many other avenues for treating pain, including physical therapy, behavioral counseling, and alternative techniques such as acupuncture, yoga, meditation, massage therapy, etc. Dr. Silberberg and his team may recommend one or a combination of these approaches to help mitigate your pain.
How long does an interventional pain procedure take?
Most procedures take about 15-30 minutes to complete, although some may take 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on complexity. Whatever procedure you are having, Dr. Silberberg and his team will explain it to you in detail, including the risks, benefits, and alternatives.
Can I eat or drink before my procedure? Take my medications?
It depends on the procedure you are having. If you will be receiving sedation, you should not eat for 8 hours prior to the procedure, although you may have clear liquids (no cream or milk) up to 2 hours prior to your procedure.
With the exception of blood thinners (Coumadin®, Plavix®, Xarelto®, Effient®, Brilinta®, etc.), you can continue taking most medications as usual. If you are on blood thinners, please discuss this with your doctor, as you may need to stop taking them for a period of time before your procedure. You will be given complete instructions prior to your procedure. Do not stop taking medications without proper instructions from your prescribing physician.
Do I need someone to drive me home after a procedure?
If you will be sedated for a procedure, it is mandatory to have someone else drive you home. For procedures without sedation, it is highly recommended, but not mandatory, to have a driver available in case you need one.
How long is the recovery period after a procedure?
After a procedure, patients remain in the recovery room for 15 – 30 minutes. Once discharged, most patients can immediately return to their normal activities, although certain procedures require a brief period of rest at home. Dr. Silberberg and his team will advise you of any restrictions related to your procedure.