Chronic Pain Unit

Chronic Pain

The Chronic Pain Unit

Welcome to the Chronic Pain Unit section of the trust website. We are a unique centre offering treatment and support for patients experiencing chronic pain. We are based at Maidstone Hospital with satellite clinics at The Tunbridge Wells Hospital and Sevenoaks Hospital.

TOP

Our Team

Our medical team consist of 4 anaesthetists with 2 registrars. We have 1 clinical nurse specialist, 1 sister and 2 staff nurses. We also have 3 clinical support workers working across sites in both outpatients and the day surgery ward.

A clinical fellowship can be arranged for medical practitioners and anaesthetists carry out their pain placement with us.

Our secretarial team provide valuable communication links within the unit.

TOP

Our Work

Our aim is to provide an evidence based service to patients referred to us from their GPs who have had experienced pain for 3 months or more.  We currently work to the 18 week target from referral date to treatment.

Pain management is achieved by a variety of methods using the multi disciplinary team. Once we have received a referral we arrange a consultation with one of our doctors. During this consultation your pain will be assessed and a plan will be discussed for how best to treat your pain using evidence based strategies. We do this by:

  • Investigating further, if necessary, using MRI scans or x-rays
  • Reviewing your medications and perhaps making changes
  • Discussing lifestyle changes which may reduce your pain
  • Referring you to a Pain Management Programme if appropriate
  • Offering you help to use a TENS machine (a small device using electrical stimulation to inhibit pain signals to the brain)
  • Offering an injection of anaesthetic and/or steroid to give short to medium term effect to the appropriate area

Whilst we can make a big difference to the quality of your life with these methods, evidence strongly suggests that people can make a big difference to their pain themselves.

TOP

How can you achieve better pain control yourself?

Longstanding pain affects more than 10% of people in the UK. Often there is no cure and sometimes no diagnosis. It can cause anger, frustration, pressure on relationships, loss of employment and commonly depression. It is so important to understand your pain and learn coping strategies.

TOP

What can help?
  • Gentle exercise – often people in pain are nervous about movement, but gentle exercise and building up gradually will help to strengthen your inner core muscles. These muscles act as a support for your spine thus reducing pain and stiffness. Your flexibility will also be increased and a reduction of weight may reduce pain levels greatly.
  • Goal setting and pacing – often people in pain reduce their activities on bad days and do too much on good days which may result in an increase in discomfort. Setting achievable goals and pacing yourself properly helps you have a sense of accomplishment and success.
  • Relaxation – pain can lead to tension. Learning to relax your mind and body will reduce this tension and in turn your pain may reduce.
  • Join a support group – it helps to talk to others going through similar experiences and find out their coping mechanisms.
    Click here for a link to The British Pain Society to find out more about self help groups in your area.

TOP

Day Case Patients

If you have been offered an injection for your pain you will need to come to the unit as a day case.

Your appointment will be in the morning, you may have a light breakfast before 07.30am.You may be advised to attend the unit at either 08.00 or 10.00.

Take you usual medications on the day of your appointment unless you are taking Clopidogrel (Plavix) or Warfarin, which thin your blood. If you are taking these medications please telephone the ward as soon as you receive your appointment for advice on when to stop prior to coming in.

If you are diabetic please take your medications before your procedure and ensure that you eat before you arrive. We will monitor your blood sugars whilst you are with us. Please note that your sugar levels may be raised after your injection for up to 2 weeks as the medication we use may have this effect. Keep monitoring your blood sugars regularly and consult your GP if you are at all concerned.

The procedure is performed in a theatre and 8-10 patients are admitted for any one list. The order of the list is arranged on the day and takes into consideration patients medical conditions, age and transport arrangements. The nurse admitting you will be able to advise you of an approximate time that you will be ready to go home.

Some people like to bring dressing gown and slippers to the unit for their own comfort. A book or similar is also recommended. Please note that due to limited space in the unit itself, family members will not be able to stay with patients on the ward and will be encouraged to wait in the adjoining restaurant or arrange to collect the patient at a specified time.

TOP

What will happen when I arrive at the Unit?

When you first arrive at the unit you will be seated in reception and a nurse will call you into a consultation room. The nurse will go through your admission paperwork and explain the procedure to you. Please feel free to ask and questions.

The injection itself takes 20 – 40 minutes to perform under local anaesthetic and is guided by x-ray. If you would like to have sedation whilst your procedure takes place please discuss this with the nurse and/or doctor looking after you. It is not always appropriate or necessary to give sedation and the procedure is never performed under a general anaesthetic for safety reasons.

We recommend that you stay for at least an hour after your injection to ensure that you have been adequately monitored and that you have had something to drink and a snack. During this time you may experience some tingling or numbness in the areas injected or in the limbs associated with that area. This is a common reaction and is monitored by nursing staff until it abates. You may also experience mild dizziness after the procedure as a drop in your blood pressure is normal and this resolves itself quickly.

We recommend that you rest for the rest of the day of your procedure and gently mobilise thereafter. Any dressings on the area can be removed the day after your injections and we advise you not to drink alcohol, drive or operate machinery for 24 hours after the procedure. It is usually safe to resume normal work after 48 hours but please discuss any concerns with the nursing staff.

TOP

How to find us

We are located on the first floor of Maidstone Hospital.

On arriving in the main reception of the hospital, take the stairs or lift to your left up to the first floor. If you have taken the stairs turn left and we are situated on your left. If you have taken the lift, turn right and we are situated on your right.

Out unit is signposted as Chronic Pain Unit.

TOP

Contacts

Chronic Pain Reception: 01622 224955
Chronic Pain Ward: 07595 647727
Secretary to Dr Ludgrove and Dr Fai: 01622 224411
Secretary to Dr Norman: 01622 220320                            
Secretary to Dr Griffiths: 01892 638232

TOP