Patient Resources

Evaluation

At the University Medical Centers, we take a customized approach to the evaluation of a patient's pain condition since there are many different causes and sources for pain in the body. Some of evaluative processes that are utilized at our centers include:

Complete History and Physical

MRI, CT, Bone scans, and Discography

Radiological (X-Ray) Evaluations

Neurological Evaluations

The University Pain Centers, Rush University Medical Center and Rush Oak Park Hospital have state-of-the-art facilities available for diagnostic procedures.

Treatment Options

University Pain Centers (UPC) specializes in the treatment of pain conditions disorders such as degenerative disc disease, small disc herniations, neck and back pain, post-surgical pain, cancer pain, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, post-herpetic neuralgia, as well as other painful conditions.

While certain pain conditions can be improved with one or two treatment modalities, many require an individualized multi-modal regimen that includes medical procedures and medications, coupled with psychological support and physical therapy, to alleviate pain and its consequences. Through the use of the Center’s expert multidisciplinary team approach, we are able to provide treatment that enables patients to become more productive and improve their quality of life. Our UPC physicians are experts in the treatment of these conditions and have extensive experience in the injection of medications at specific locations of the spine, joints, peripheral nerves, and soft tissues which are done to treat pain syndromes, or for diagnosis of the problem that might contribute to the pain you are experiencing. Moreover, the UPC physician and staff encourage patients to discuss the treatment options available for their conditions and to ask questions about those procedures.

State-of-the-Art Therapies

UPC takes pride in utilizing and providing cutting edge technologies and therapies to its patients. In addition, for example, UPC physicians have been active in research involving implantable neurostimulation devices and intrathecal pumps. Controlled studies have shown that neurostimulation can be effective in treating pain in some patients where repeat spine surgery has not helped or is not indicated. Neurostimulation uses a small system that is surgically placed under the skin to send mild electrical impulses to the spinal cord or to a peripheral nerve. The electrical impulses are delivered through a lead (a special medical wire) that is also surgically placed. These electrical impulses appear to block the pain signal from reaching the brain.

Another implantable device option involves a small pump that is surgically placed under the skin of the abdomen or back to deliver medication directly into the intrathecal space and spinal fluid. This spinal drug pump, sometimes referred to as a spinal morphine pump, is a sophisticated system where a small reservoir is enclosed around a pump which sends medication through a small plastic tube or catheter. This therapy delivers medications directly to the pain receptor sites, through a catheter, using only a fraction of the dose that would be required with oral or IV medication.

The UPC physician(s) and staff will discuss with you whether or not these treatment options are appropriate for your condition.The following are some of the treatment and procedure options available at University Pain Centers

Psychological Services

Pain can have profound psychological effects, including feelings of hopelessness, anger, sadness, and even despair. These feelings can interfere with your ability to perform your job or your normal daily activities.

Psychological therapy can help you to cope with the effects of pain on you and those around you. There are also specific psychological techniques that can actually help to reduce pain.

Your treatment plan may include the following psychological therapies:

  • Individual and group counseling
  • Biofeedback
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Self-hypnosis
  • Visual imaging
  • Learning or conditioning techniques

Psychological Services FAQ

What can a psychologist do for my physical pain?

Pain is a "whole person" experience. Most people experience pain physically, emotionally, socially and intellectually. Pain can inhibit a normal productive life: it can limit your ability to concentrate, participate in physical activities and enjoy social interactions. Psychological evaluation and treatment can help many individuals develop specific skills that relieve the suffering of pain and thus increase their quality of life.

What happens during a psychological evaluation?

During your psychological evaluation, we hope to gain an understanding of your situation so that we can provide you with some relief from the psychological consequences of your pain. A psychological evaluation is an efficient way of obtaining the necessary personal and historical information to assist you in getting effective medical care and pain relief.

As part of the initial consultation, you will be asked to complete several psychological tests and questionnaires. Combined with a personal interview, psychological testing helps you and your physician understand and plan the best possible multidisciplinary treatment.

Professional recommendations are normally made after the initial evaluation is completed. We will discuss with you the results of your psychological evaluation and your individualized treatment recommendations prior to your agreement to enter treatment at the Pain Management Center.

What psychological evaluation is not?

Some patients are concerned that the psychological evaluation might imply that their pain is imagined rather than felt; this is not the case. In fact, pain that is delusional cannot be alleviated through psychological treatments. Physical pain is normally recognized by the brain and, thus, has many effects on your well-being. It is these effects that we hope to identify during the psychological evaluation.

What psychological techniques are used?

Psychological therapy offered at the Pain Management Center addresses both the physical and the emotional suffering associated with pain. We offer psychotherapy in both individual and group settings. Specific techniques include:

Psycho-physiological techniques Biofeedback/Relaxation Training: Many patients benefit from learning how to control their responses to chronic pain. Biofeedback and relaxation training teach you how to release the tension and anxiety that often make painful physical conditions more excruciating.

Behavioral Techniques Self-Monitoring: Most patients will be asked to keep a diary of their pain, observing how pain levels increase or decrease over time. By monitoring your pain, you can develop an appreciation of your ability to control and manage levels of pain using skills you have learned.

Paced Progressive Increases in Activity Levels: By encouraging the slow and steady introduction of or increase in activity, we can help patients start to feel an improvement in their quality of life. Pain can be very debilitating, and the Pain Management Center is committed to helping patients improve their social, occupational and recreational activity levels.

Cognitive Techniques Self-Hypnosis and Visual Imagery: These techniques help you control pain that interferes with your occupational and sleep patterns. Through self-hypnosis, many patients report reduced levels of pain and an increased ability to concentrate on meaningful pursuits.

Emotional Management: Over time, pain can be very distressing, leading to depression, anxiety and social turmoil. Psychological therapy can assist you in reducing the emotional distress associated with chronic pain. By learning these techniques, your pain can be transformed and your suffering reduced.

Home Treatment Aids Office visits also include many helpful self-aid materials that enable patients to maximize the effects of treatment in the shortest time possible. Professional materials instructing you in the self-management approach to chronic pain and professionally produced relaxation and self-hypnosis tapes are provided.

Are sessions with the psychologist confidential?

In almost all situations, you control who has access to the information disclosed during your interview sessions with your psychiatrist. There are some unusual exceptions to this rule, however, and you need to be aware of them. Information regarding child abuse, elder abuse or the need to protect you and others from physical harm or immediate danger must be reported to the appropriate persons by state law.

Please do not hesitate to call one of our staff psychologists at (312) 942-6631 if you have additional questions or concerns regarding our psychological services. For general information on the Pain Management Center, please call (888) 909-PAIN