The Pain Management Center
The Pain Management Center is a leader in the multidisciplinary approach to the management of chronic pain, and is located in the Center for Advanced Medicine at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Patients must be referred by their primary care physician or a specialist currently involved in their care.
The Pain Management Center was established to provide relief for those who suffer from chronic and acute pain. Patients receive individualized treatment and the most advanced services available.
The primary goals of treatment include:
- Decreasing pain
- Increasing mobility
- Diminishing dependency on pain medication
- Decreasing medical complications of pain
- Decreasing length of hospital stays and frequency of visits
- Allowing patients to be involved in their own pain management
The Pain Management Center is staffed by five board-certified Washington University anesthesiologists and a psychologist, who coordinate patient care through regularly scheduled pain management patient conferences. Additional information including patient education and other videos on conditions and procedures are available at pain.wustl.edu.
Hours of Operation
- Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
- When the clinic is closed, patients may call 314.362.8820. If you call this number, you will hear a message that tells you how to reach a doctor if you have a problem that cannot wait until the clinic is open.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is pain normal?
Pain is normal! Pain is an uncomfortable feeling that tells you something is wrong in your body. Pain can help alert us to serious health events; if you couldn’t feel a broken leg or a heart attack, you would not live a long and healthy life.
When pain doesn’t go away in the expected timeframe, it’s known as chronic pain. Chronic pain following surgery occurs up to 10%-50% of the time and contributes to disability, poor quality of life and chronic prescription opioid use.
Chronic pain is more common than you might think. In the United States, more than 100 million people suffer from chronic pain. Medical advancements have allowed us to better identify, treat and manage chronic pain.
Can I just take opioids to treat my pain?
Opioids can be a vital treatment immediately after a surgery. However, long-term opioid use is associated with nausea, vomiting, itching, constipation, sexual dysfunction, poor sleep, sedation and mental status changes.
Taking opioids for a long period of time can lead to a disorder known as tolerance, in which opioids begin to lose their effect. Additionally, there is risk of accidental overdose, addiction or physical dependence. Opioids are a useful temporary solution, but use over an extended period of time can actually make your pain worse. Our clinic looks for non-opioid treatment options to help alleviate or manage pain.
What new therapies are available?
The goal of the Washington University Pain Center is to alleviate human suffering from pain through integration of research, education and clinical practice. We diligently evaluate the evidence behind the techniques we offer so that we can provide the best and safest options for our patients.
In addition to commonly performed procedures to treat chronic pain, such as epidural steroid injections and joint injections, we perform cutting-edge procedures to treat difficult pain conditions.
We can implant spinal cord stimulators to alleviate painful diabetic neuropathy as well as life-altering back or neck pain that persists despite injections or surgery. We are also experts in a newer technique used to treat neuropathic pain in the lower parts of the body resulting from a nerve injury or complex regional pain syndrome.
If spinal fusion surgery is not an option for moderate lumbar spinal stenosis that’s causing legs to be heavy or weak while standing, we can use a clinically proven, minimally invasive technique called Vertiflex. With this procedure, we treat the root cause of the pain by lifting pressure from affected nerve roots.
I have degenerative disc disease or bone-on-bone arthritis — will I have pain forever?
Many people suffering from bone-on-bone arthritis or degenerative disc disease do not suffer from pain. However, tiny movements can cause pain or make pain worse for some people. We encourage all of our patients to be evaluated by a physical therapist to help them get back to a more active lifestyle. It really is true that if you don’t use it, you will lose it!
What happens if my first treatment doesn’t work?
Our physicians and nurse practitioners provide a comprehensive trial and evaluation of non-invasive therapies prior to advanced therapies. We continually evaluate current research to offer the most state-of-the-art, FDA-approved therapies for our patients. We approach pain care with a 5-step treatment method including:
- Non-opioid pain medications
- Physical therapy
- Pain psychology
- Everything else, including further work up and/or surgical evaluation
Our goals are the same as yours — to understand why you are in pain as well as treat the pain.
How do I get into the pain clinic?
You need to be referred by your primary care physician. Your primary care physician — the doctor who knows you best — should be on board to assist you in the navigation of various treatment options.
How do I schedule an appointment?
Please call the center at 314.362.8820 Monday-Friday, between 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.