Pain medicine - Information for Patients

Important: Patients using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications should read the following information from the FDA! Patients who come to the Center for Pain Medicine and Regional Anesthesia often have pain that has not responded to treatment by other physicians. They often have chronic pain that has been with them for a long period of time. Physicians also send patients for conditions that may benefit from early treatment or specialized treatment. Common problems include pain from nerve injuries, low back pain and cancer pain.

Q1.  What is Pain Medicine? Are anesthesiologists pain medicine specialists?


Pain is usually caused by injury or disease, but sometimes lasts long after the original injury has healed. Chronic pain may result from damage to nerves that  occurs at the time of the injury or occurs later as part of the body's response to the injury. Although Center for Pain Medicine and Regional Anesthesia physicians are experts at identifying the causes of pain, sometimes the exact cause of chronic pain cannot determined.

Anesthesiologists are physicians who specialize in preventing and relieving pain. Some of the very first pain medicine doctors were anesthesiologists. Anesthesiologists started the first pain clinic in the country and helped found an international organization dedicated to pain research and treatment.

The physicians who staff the Center for Pain Medicine are diplomats of the American Board of Anesthesiology. Following 4 years of medical school, they have completed another 3-4 years of specialty training in anesthesiology, which is the the study of pain relief. They then had to pass a rigorous set of exams. Many have also taken another year of specialized training in the care of chronic pain patients and passed additional exams to receive special Certification in Pain Management from the American Board of Anesthesiology.

Q2. How do I make an appointment?


Before calling the Center for Pain Medicine and Regional Anesthesia, you should first see your personal physician. If treatment has been unsuccessful, you may then request a referral from a physician.

To schedule an appointment, call 319-356-2320 between the hours of 8:00 am - 5:00 pm Monday to Friday. New patient appointments begin no later than 2:00 pm. Plan to spend at least 3 hours here.

Please be advised that the Center for Pain Medicine and Regional Anesthesia does not perform disability evaluations for Workers' Compensation claims.

Q3.  What items will I need at the time of the evaluation? What do I need to know before the evaluation?


If you have personal copies of your medical records, including x-rays or other pictures that may have been taken, please bring them with you to the appointment. If possible, ask any doctors who may have treated you previously for copies of your medical records, including x-rays or other tests. If you are on any medication, be sure you know the names of each pill and how much is used each day.

Do not eat breakfast or drink anything for 6 hours prior to your appointment unless you are an insulin-dependent diabetic. Diabetics should eat normally. If you are on any medications, contact the clinic staff in advance to ask whether or not you should take your medication that day. It's a good idea to bring the medication with you in case you need to take a dose later in the day. Wear loose, comfortable clothing. You will also need to arrange for an adult over 18 years of age to drive you home in case the doctors decide to treat you that day.

Q4.  What will happen during a visit?


Center for Pain Medicine and Regional Anesthesia physicians will talk with you about your pain and medical history, review your past medical records, and conduct a physical examination. Sometimes they may need to perform special diagnostic tests to help pinpoint the cause of your pain. They will then discuss their diagnosis with you and outline treatment options. Their goal is to tailor a treatment plan specific to your problems and needs. In many cases, you may be able to start treatment right away. Sometimes, however, you may have a return visit to follow through with treatment options.


Q5.  What conditions does the center treat?


The Pain Medicine Center at the University of Iowa provides specialty care for patients suffering from a variety of conditions. A comprehensive list of conditions that are treated would be beyond the scope of this website. An abbreviated list detailing some of the more common problems is provided below. If you have any questions regarding a condition not listed, consider contacting us by phone or email
Pain resulting from or involved in diseases related to:
    •    Malignancy
    •    Post laminectomy syndrome
    •    Cervical sprain
    •    Headache
    •    Occiptal neuralgia
    •    Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
    •    Neuropathic Pain
    •    Peripheral neuropathies and nerve injuries
    •    Pain from diabetic neuropathy
    •    Post spinal cord injury pain
    •    Brachial plexopathy
    •    Phantom limb pain
    •    Craniofacial pain
    •    Trigeminal neuralgia
    •    Post-herpetic neuralgia
    •    Myofascial pain
    •    Temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ)
    •    Post Thoracotomy Pain Syndrome
    •    Carpal tunnel syndrome
    •    Repetitive stress injuries
    •    Chronic pelvic pain
    •    Postmastectomy pain
    •    Chronic abdominal pain
    •    Post herniorrhaphy pain

Q6.  What treatment options are available?


Oral medication management*
Surgical consultation and referral*
Physical therapy regimen*

Peripheral blocks, local anesthetic injections:

Trigger point injections*    
Supraorbital nerve block*    
Selective nerve root block*    
Celiac plexus block*   
Stellate ganglion block*    
Superior hypogastric plexus block*    
Ganglion impar block*    
Lumbar sympathetic block