What does a pain management doctor do? Simply put, they treat pain. These highly-trained and highly-specialized doctors diagnose conditions, coordinate treatment, and provide ongoing care for pain patients. They work diligently to find real, long-term or permanent solutions to reduce or eliminate pain. They work most often with chronic pain patients who have experienced symptoms for three months or longer- a common complaint among those suffering from arthritis or back pain.
What is a pain management doctor?
The American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA) defines a pain management doctor as: “a physician with special training in evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of all different types of pain.”
Pain management doctors have advanced training that makes them a better fit if you suffer from pain. While your primary care doctor can and should help in some cases, for advanced types of pain they’ll likely refer you to a pain management doctor. A pain management doctor has gone through an additional one-year fellowship in pain management after their general residency. They’re also board-certified in their specialties.
A pain management doctor may treat pain related to acute sports injuries. Or, they can work with patients afflicted with cancer pain. Most, however, work with chronic pain patients. Pain is considered chronic if it’s lasted for three or more months. This type of pain can be hard to diagnose, require multiple therapies to treat, and take months or years to treat. However, some pain patients will require care throughout their life.
The most common types of conditions that a pain management doctor treats include:
Lower back pain
Head pain and migraines
What is a pain clinic?
A pain management doctor operates most often out of pain clinics. Pain clinics differ in their approach, but the best ones will coordinate a comprehensive, team-based, and holistic approach to managing and treating your pain. This team approach is the best way to diagnose the cause of your pain and find treatments that work.
“These health care providers are likely to include doctors of different specialties as well as non-physician providers specializing in the diagnosis and management of chronic pain. These providers may include psychologists, physical therapists, and complementary and alternative therapists such as acupuncturists or massage therapists.”
Your pain management plan may include a variety of complementary therapies, including:
Stem cell therapy
Prescription medications may include:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
Interventional treatments may include:
Epidural steroid injections
Tendon sheath injections
Trigger point injections
Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)
Although no single remedy will cure your pain, combining multiple methods can help you find the best mix to maximize your quality of life. In severe cases, surgery may be warranted. This should only be used when other less invasive methods haven’t worked, or your condition is seriously affecting your quality of life.
Should I visit a pain management doctor?
When should you visit a pain doctor? Most people who have chronic pain will have a primary care physician refer them to a pain specialist, however if your physician has not yet referred you and you're experiencing chronic or increasing pain, it's time to ask for a referral.
As EverydayHealth explains:
“As with any ailment, the first stop for patients looking for pain treatment should be their primary care physician. However, if you can’t find a satisfactory pain management program within an appropriate length of time or if your pain is getting worse, referral to a pain specialist may be the next step.”
If you or a loved one are experiencing pain, please consider coming in for a consultation and assessment. Contact us today!