How to Find the Right Pain Management Specialist
For individuals dealing with chronic pain conditions can having a better understanding of pain management specialists help in developing effective multidisciplinary treatment plans?
Table of Contents
Pain Management Specialists
Pain management is a growing medical specialty that takes a multi-disciplinary approach to treating all types of pain. It is a branch of medicine that applies scientifically proven techniques and methods to relieve, reduce, and manage pain symptoms and sensations. Pain management specialists evaluate, rehabilitate, and treat a spectrum of conditions, including neuropathic pain, sciatica, postoperative pain, chronic pain conditions, and more. Many primary healthcare providers refer their patients to pain management specialists if pain symptoms are ongoing or significant in their manifestation.
Healthcare providers specializing in pain management recognize the complex nature of pain and approach the problem from all directions. Treatment at a pain clinic is patient-centric but depends on the clinic’s available resources. Currently, there are no set standards for the types of disciplines needed, another reason treatment options vary from clinic to clinic. Experts say that a facility should offer patients:
- A coordinating practitioner specializing in pain management and consulting specialists on the patient’s behalf.
- A physical rehabilitation specialist.
- A psychiatrist to help the individual deal with any accompanying depression or anxiety, especially when dealing with chronic pain. (American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine. 2023)
Other Medical Specialties
Other specialties represented in pain management are anesthesiology, neurosurgery, and internal medicine. A coordinating healthcare provider may refer an individual for services from:
- Occupational medicine specialists
- Social workers
- Alternative medicine practitioners
- Complementary medicine practitioners (American Academy of Pain Medicine. 2023)
A healthcare provider should have completed additional training and credentialing in pain medicine and be an MD with board certification in at least one of the following (American Board of Medical Specialties. 2023)
- Physical rehabilitation
A pain management physician should also have their practice limited to the specialty they hold the certification.
The field of pain management treats all types of pain as a disease. Chronic, such as headaches; acute, from surgery, and more. This allows for applying science and the latest medical advances to pain relief. There are now many modalities, including:
- Interventional pain management techniques – nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulators, and similar treatments.
- Physical therapy
- Alternative medicine
- The objective is to minimize and make symptoms manageable.
- Improve function.
- Increase the quality of life. (Srinivas Nalamachu. 2013)
A pain management clinic will go through the following:
- Diagnostic tests, if necessary.
- Physical therapy – increases the range of motion, strengthens the body, and prepares individuals to return to work and daily activities.
- Interventional treatment – injections or spinal cord stimulation.
- Referral to a surgeon if indicated by the tests and evaluation.
- Psychiatry to deal with depression, anxiety, and/or other issues that accompany chronic pain symptoms.
- Alternative medicine to support and enhance the other treatments.
Individuals who do well with a pain management program
Individuals who have:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Had multiple back surgeries
- Failed surgeries
- Individuals determined that surgery does not benefit their condition.
A better understanding of pain syndromes by communities and insurance companies and increased pain studies will help increase insurance coverage for treatments and technology to improve interventional outcomes.
Chiropractic Care for Leg Instability
American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine. (2023). The specialty of chronic pain management.
American Academy of Pain Medicine (2023). About the American Academy of Pain Medicine.
American Board of Medical Specialties. (2023). The Most Trusted Medical Specialty Certification Organization.
Nalamachu S. (2013). An overview of pain management: the clinical efficacy and value of treatment. The American journal of managed care, 19(14 Suppl), s261–s266.
American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. (2023). Pain Physician.
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