What tests are used to diagnose chronic pain?
The International Association for the Study of Pain recommends a multidisciplinary approach to the assessment of chronic pain. The initial evaluation should include a complete medical and pain history.
At Children’s Hospital Colorado, your child’s doctor will talk to you about the onset of pain, intensity, quality, location, duration, variability, predictability, exacerbating (what makes it worse) and alleviating (what makes it better) factors.
Your appointment will also include a psychosocial assessment of your child and family, including the child’s emotional functioning, coping skills and impact of pain on daily life including sleeping, eating, school, social and physical activities, and family and peer interactions. Our assessment will look at the impact of chronic pain on quality of life and daily function.
While a goal is to reduce the amount of pain a child experiences, the Chronic Pain Clinic focuses on improving function first (e.g., returning to school, being able to be active again). We know from research that these functional improvements are a first step to improved pain.
How do doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado diagnose chronic pain?
Children referred to the Chronic Pain Clinic have been seen by their primary care physician and typically multiple other specialists. However, despite previous interventions, their pain doesn’t go away and impacts them on an ongoing basis.
The multidisciplinary care team at the Chronic Pain Clinic (including doctors, nurse practitioners, psychologists, social workers, nurses, and physical therapists) are experts in the biopsychosocial model of pain. They understand the unique, complex way that biological, psychological, individual, social and environmental factors affect chronic pain symptoms and subsequent disability.
Each patient and family is seen in our new patient clinic, where they are evaluated by the team during a 4-hour appointment and then presented with an individualized treatment plan.