Measuring Your Pain: How Doctors Standardize the Subjective

Measuring Your Pain: How Doctors Standardize the Subjective

Pain is – in its nature – a personal experience. Though it has a definite physical cause, your pain is as subjective as your emotions and identifying its root cause can be difficult without a concrete method of defining it.

For your doctor, measuring a patient’s pain is as difficult as it is for the patient to describe it – and fortunately, there are a number of ways around it. By using predefined pain scales, physicians can acquire a more accurate picture of their patients’ pain levels, form a better diagnosis, and ensure they prescribe the right treatment.

Most chronic pain patients are familiar with the “0-10” pain scale. Patients are asked to rate their pain level on a scale of zero to ten, with zero representing “pain-free” and ten representing the highest level of pain imaginable; the test is simple, non-specific, and often the most effective and accessible way to reach a patient.

Often physicians will ask their chronic pain patients to record their pain levels daily or during certain tasks using a Visual Analog Pain Scale on a scale of zero to ten. Varying situations – such as an emergency room visit versus a monthly appointment with a pain specialist – require different methods of analysis, and having an effective method of measuring pain makes the diagnosis more accurate. For a chronic pain patient, being able to communicate pain levels in a medically standardized way opens a world of opportunities in pain management – and in life. 

Patient Satisfaction

Take a look at patient reviews of the doctors and staff at Twin Cities Pain Clinic. We welcome feedback about our team, pain care clinics & surgery center so we can continuously improve processes and the overall experience. 


Location: Woodbury Clinic 

“I am truly grateful for the high level of care and compassion (especially during these very difficult times specifically for chronic pain patients and their families). I will continue to recommend TCPC to family, friends and associates. The experienced doctors, medical technicians, and other very important staff members work diligently to ensure that my family and I receive the treatments, medications (and insurance approval necessary to receive them) to improve our quality of life and function. Convenient and flexible appointment scheduling and an outstanding team of professionals who show genuine compassion and a commitment to better the lives of their patients make Twin Cities Pain Clinic a place you will look forward to returning to and recommending to others!”


Location: Maple Grove Clinic

“Usually there is always something negative to say about a medical office. I can truly say that I have only positive things to say about this clinic and the staff! They work hard, they are always smiling and positive which really means a lot to people who constantly have pain issues. It’s easy to get sucked into a negative mood. But when i walk in and see smiles, it changes everything! Thank you!”



Location: Twin Cities Surgery Center 

“I have had many surgical procedures, so I have had a wide variety of surgical experiences. Twin Cities Surgery Center is one of my best experiences I have ever had. All of the staff from the receptionists to the nurses and then to the doctors are very professional and caring. I highly recommend this facility.”


Location: Edina Clinic  

“My first visit at TCPC was by far THE best experience I have ever had in regards to my chronic pain! I was early, which is the reason for the brief wait. Check-in was short and efficient. Due to arriving early, they did my blood work and urinalysis before I saw Karen, instead of after, which demonstrates that they’re mindful of time. Karen arrived within minutes of my finishing with the nurse and we started on time. Karen is absolutely AMAZING! She took time to ask me questions and answer mine. She actually listened to me and heard what I had to say. Most importantly, she treated me with dignity and respect! Everyone I encountered did so and this is something I have never experienced with medical professionals and my chronic pain. Staff are clearly knowledgeable and truly care. I start Physical Therapy next week and my MRI’s are being done today! I left feeling hopeful that my pain is going to be managed appropriately and that my quality of life just might improve! I highly recommend TCPC!”

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Raymond’s Story

Raymond Ramirez received a Spinal Cord Stimulator at Twin Cities Pain Clinic. Before the procedure, Raymond was extremely limited by his chronic pain.


Raymond Ramierz has some salient advice for other pain patients: Don’t give up the first time you hear a doctor say “there’s nothing more we can do.”

For years, Raymond listened to the stories of life-long criminals. Before retirement he had served as an associate warden in the California Department of Corrections and Deputy Commissioner on the Parole Board, seeing inmates with life sentences. But when it came time to find a doctor to listen to his story of debilitating pain, he fell short until he saw the staff at Twin Cities Pain Clinic. 

“From the very first visit, I felt like Dr. Will listened. He looked over all my reports and we had a good talk,” said Raymond. “He helped answer a lot of my questions and I marveled at Dr. Will’s abilities.”

Raymond had been looking for answers to his persistent pain for three years. It started with leg pain in 2006, first the right and then the left. He received the diagnosis of degenerative disc disease and began an endless series of procedures that never brought anything more than temporary relief – surgery, water therapy, acupuncture, and injections. “It got worse. My pain was a 9 or 10 at times. I could barley walk hunched over with a cane and finally I wasn’t leaving the house for anything other than doctor visits for more than a year,” said Raymond. One doctor even told him there was nothing he could do or even suggest. “Your hope goes out the window and it’s difficult to move on from there,” he added.

At Twin Cities Pain Clinic, Raymond was considered a candidate for neurostimulation therapy, a battery-powered device that interrupts the pain signals to the brain. “I felt the difference right away. This small device has a tremendous amount of technology packed into it.”

Pain Diaries for Chronic Pain

Why Pain Diaries Work

Your doctor needs detailed data to plot out the causes and triggers of your chronic pain and build a treatment plan. When he/she asks how you have been in the past month or two, you need to be ready to provide specifics. 

“My back is bothering me worse than ever” won’t help your doctor. One solution pain doctors recommend is keeping a pain diary, a consistent record of your pain experience. 

Your Doctor will be looking for triggers, stresses, and patterns. The more detailed you can be about the factors that seem to influence your pain, the better. 

What to Keep in Your Pain Diary 

An accurate record of your pain will help your doctor give you the best treatment.

  • Indicate whether your pain interrupts daily activities like walking, working, or sleeping.
  • Note what medications you took, when you took them, how much relief they provided, and for how long.
  • Describe other treatments you may have tried (yoga, herbal remedies, nonprescription drugs), and whether they provided any relief.
  • Note any side effects of pain medicine.
  • Keep track of anything that makes the pain improve (better when you are sitting instead of standing, better after a hot shower, etc.)

Consistency is the key. If you make notes in your diary on a regular basis (several times a week), you’ll have a complete picture of your pain experience and patterns will emerge.  

Watch for Surprises and Patterns 

You may notice some unusual connections. The stress of making dinner in the evening may cause that stabbing pain to return, or an argument with your daughter may make your back hurt more than usual.

One female patient found her pain diary invaluable for keeping track of her fibromyalgia. “I saw that my pain would peak at certain times of the day,” she says. “Even when I was on pain medication, I still found the pain had an upward climb at the end of the day. I was able to take that to the doctor, and when he looked at it he said ‘It’s clear that you pain medicine is not getting you through the day. We need to do something about that spike.’ He changed my medication and things improved.” 

Dr. Will & Dr. Haas Implant New Spectra WaveWriter by Boston Scientific

On February 6th at Twin Cities Surgery Center, Dr. Andrew Will and Dr. Sherri Haas implanted the first Spectra WaveWriter Neurostimulator system in Minnesota.

Twin Cities Pain Clinic and Twin Cities Surgery Center is the first facility in Minnesota to offer the Spectra WaveWriter Spinal Cord Simulator system by Boston Scientific. The FDA approved device is the first and only system approved to simultaneously provide paraesthesia-based and sub-perception therapy. The system allows physicians and patients to combine therapeutic options, customize therapy and capture real-time feedback designed to treat chronic and debilitating pain successfully.

Access to a new cutting-edge treatment option should offer new hope to Minnesota residents struggling with debilitating pain, like Jerri Thomas. Jerri is the first in Minnesota to receive the new Spectra WaveWriter SCS device. Jerri’s pain started as a result from multiple car accidents leaving her with low back and leg pain along with fibromyalgia. Jerri had her first SCS implanted in 2012 and is excited for the new updates with the Spectra WaveWriter. Spinal Cord Stimulation has improved Jerri’s quality of life, allowing her to be active with her 8 grandchildren. When asked if she would recommend Spinal Cord Stimulation to others she responded with, “I already have, and I will continue to do so.”

Jerri is willing to share her motivating, first-hand experience to help others. Our experts welcome the opportunity to further discuss chronic pain and treatment options. If you have any questions regarding Spinal Cord Stimulation or other treatment options, do not hesitate to call our clinic at 952-841-2345.

Chronic pain has a significant personal impact and the fact that Spinal Cord Stimulation may provide pain relief is extremely important as Minnesota and the nation prepares to combat the opioid crisis. Spinal Cord Stimulation fights pain with technology and is a revolutionary non-opioid therapy.

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Road-Map to a Better Night’s Sleep

Road-map to a Better Night’s Sleep

More than 60 million Americans suffer from poor sleep quality. Good quality sleep is an important piece of managing your pain. If managing your pain is important to you, it’s time to start looking at your sleep hygiene and methods to improve it. Experts from Twin Cities Pain Clinic share their top tips. 

Stick to a schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. 

Get regular exercise. Physical activity improves sleep quality and increases sleep duration. Exercise may also bolster sleep in other ways, because it helps to reduce stress. It can be especially helpful if you are able to exercise outdoors and let your body absorb natural sunlight during the daytime hours. 

Avoid large meals and beverages before bedtime. A heavy meal is tougher for the stomach to digest than a light snack. Foods that trigger indigestion before bed makes it harder for your body to relax and drift off to sleep. 

Have a good sleep environment. Remove anything from your bedroom that might distract you. Keeping a clean and neat room is important for quality rest. Ditch all electronics from your room. TV, cellphone, tablet, laptop, and even your e-reader emit sleep-stealing light and will keep you awake longer. 


Intrathecal Pump Refills Offered At All Clinic Locations

First Pump Refill Performed in our Woodbury Clinic

February 1st, 2018 – TCPC Woodbury

One of the treatment options that Twin Cities Pain Clinic offers is an Intrathecal Drug Delivery system, or “pain pump.” It is a method of giving medication directly to your spinal cord. The system uses a small pump that is surgically placed under the skin of your abdomen and delivers medication through a catheter to the area around your spinal cord. Because the medication is delivered directly to the spinal cord, your symptoms can be controlled with a much smaller dose than is needed with oral medication. The goal of a drug pump is to better control your symptoms and to reduce oral medications; thus, reducing their associated side effects.

Until now our patients had to travel to our Edina clinic to get their pump refilled with medications. The length of time between refills can vary from person to person. We are now happy to make these visits more convenient by offering pump refills at all of our clinic locations! Our goal at Twin Cities Pain Clinic is to utilize cutting edge as well as time-tested treatment to maximize function and quality of life. We are happy to offer these treatment options closer to home.