For Healthcare Professionals

The Multidisciplinary Pain Clinic offers a full slate of specialist pain management services.

We do consultation, medical management with adjuncts and opioids, minor nerve blocks, epidural steroid injections, sympatholytic procedures and other interventional techniques. We have a Pulsed Radio Frequency machine, which we use for facet joint denervation and peripheral neurodestruction.

We have special intervention pain medicine programs in angina pectoris and other syndromes. We also provide IMS and acupuncture. 'Life Despite Pain' is our long-term outpatient program in which refractory patients interested in improving functionality without necessarily reducing pain intensity are co-managed by medicine, nursing and psychiatry in the biopsychosocial paradigm.

Our psychologist sees patients in individual and group consultation on a referral basis from one of the physicians.

We provide interventional pain management services to the local palliative care team.

We also act as consultants in the management of complex perioperative pain - particularly those who have high opioid requirements - for the University of Alberta Hospital's Acute Pain Service.

The clinic is open five days a week. We see about 450 new patients a year and do about 2,500 follow-up visits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I make a referral?

A: Your best option is to fill out the referral template and fax it to us at (780) 407-8366. This will get your patient seen the fastest. Alternatively, send us a written referral in the usual way. In either case, be sure to include all the supporting documentation we ask for. We routinely reject referrals that are illegible or incomplete and suggest that they be resubmitted on the template.

Our bookings staff will acknowledge receipt of the referral and ask you to inform the patient of their appointment date. This will be the only notification that the patient receives. Patients who do not show for their first appointment without prior notice will not be re-booked without re-referral. These steps have been instituted to try and ensure that we make the best use of our clinic time, out of respect for the people who are waiting to see us.

Q: How long is the wait time?

A: We are part of a Central Access triage system that books patients into the first available slot at our facility, the Misericordia Hospital's Pain Clinic, or LifeMark Health in the West End. As of February 2012, a total of 2,277 patients were waiting to see a pain specialist at one of these three facilities, which, at current rates of throughput makes the wait somewhere between 23 and 38 months. This is a function of the overwhelming demand for service and the limited number of physicians and other professionals operating in this area of medicine.

Q: What if my patient can't wait that long?

A: In certain cases, we will expedite your referral if you call the clinic (780 407 8638) and ask to speak with the physician of the day. Expediting a consult pushes everyone else further down the list, so you should be prepared to provide a compelling argument. Everyone on our waiting list has considerable pain and suffering, and many of them make considerable demands of their physicians. Regrettably, these are not sufficient reasons for expediting a first appointment.

In the meantime, a holistic program of good general and medical self-care is advised. We usually recommend to adherence to daily physical exercise, weight control, stress management, sleep hygiene, and optimal treatment of physical and psychological co-morbidity.

It is perfectly permissible for you to decide whether or not to embark on a trial of long-acting opioids for refractory pain prior to the patient being seen in a specialist centre.

Q: Which patients can I refer?

A: Our core competencies are in the area of non-cancer pain in adults and children, but we will see patients with other types of pain syndromes, such as difficult acute pain and cancer pain. We do not exclude patients who have been seen in other pain treatment facilities, or compensation board cases. However, our success rate with patients who have not been helped by other facilities offering the same kinds of treatment is low.

We DO NOT accept referrals made for the sole purpose of sanctioning the medical use of marijuana.

Q: Who can refer a patient?

A: The referring physician must be able to act on our treatment suggestions and continue the care of the patient in the long term. If you are a specialist who is seeing the patient on a short-term or one-off basis, ask the patient's primary physician if he or she thinks that referral to a specialist pain centre is appropriate and have him/her initiate the referral. If we suspect that a referring physician is not going to be involved in the long-term care of the patient (e.g. if the referral comes from an emergency room physician or radiologist), we will reject it, or at least delay it while we find out if it meets this criterion.

Our catchment area is Northern Alberta, portions of Northern British Columbia and Saskatchewan and the Western Arctic but we will see any resident of Canada that is appropriately referred to us. We will see Workers' Compensation clients and those involved in litigation.

We do not accept referrals from chiropractors, practitioners of alternative therapies or other non-physician health care providers. We do not accept referral from lawyers seeking to expedite the clinical care of their clients, but we can perform independent medical examinations by referral from lawyers for persons who are not otherwise patients of ours (ask to speak directly to one of our physicians if this is what you wish).