Treating, diagnosing, and ongoing management of individuals experiencing pain is complex and requires experience and specific knowledge in pain management. A pain management specialist is trained to identify, diagnose, and treat patients suffering from specific types of pain.
What Is A Pain Management Doctor?
Pain management physicians are board-certified or have completed the certification process in pain management and have completed training and accumulated knowledge in the area of treating patients with varying types of pain. Patients may seek out a specialist for pain symptoms for a multitude of reasons such as:
- Injuries from sports activities.
- Pain from cancer.
- Metabolic or diabetes illness related pain.
- Surgery related pain.
- Pain resulting from nerve damage.
What Does A Pain Management Specialist Do?
The initial visit to a pain management specialist will consist of several steps in the process of treating pain. Patients visiting specialists in pain care can expect to go through the following steps:
- Using specific techniques to diagnose the source and type of pain.
- Complete a thorough discussion about available treatments for the type of pain diagnosed.
- Assistance in coordination of pain management interventions and therapies.
- Discussion and help with the mental aspect of dealing with chronic pain.
The pain management specialist also performs interventional procedures such as steroid injections, which may be used along with other prescribed therapy such as physical therapy.
What Is Board Certified Pain Management?
Physicians that are board-certified in pain management have training above and beyond the area of expertise. The areas most noted in pain management certification are anesthesiology, neurology, and physical and rehabilitative medicine. Physicians will complete one year of extensive training in all areas of pain management to become board certified. The American Board of Pain Management allows physicians to test in pain medicine certification as an alternative to board certification.
What To Expect From A Visit To A Pain Specialist?
The pain specialist will become acquainted with the patient and do a complete health history and reasons leading to seeking out a pain specialist. The pain specialist will then order or review lab and imaging results and previous treatments by other medical providers. A physician will then outline treatment options available for the type of pain the patient is experiencing. The treatment options may include using the team approach to treating pain. The team may consist of physical therapy, nutritional therapy, occupational therapy, and mental health support for long term pain.
How To Get Into Pain Management?
There are alternative routes to working in the specialty of pain management. Board-certified by ABA (American Board of Anesthesiology) or testing and certification by the ABPM. Both areas receive extensive training in treating patients needing pain management. Pain management is a specialized area that requires extensive knowledge and experience to diagnose and treat specific types of pain.
The ability to treat and control pain in patients is becoming more sophisticated and diverse as a new medicine, and technical approaches evolve. A physician trained in pain management is up to date on all new treatment options and will be the best option for knowing which types of pain respond to specific treatments. A referral from a primary care provider to a pain management specialist is the best way to start the initial process of receiving treatment for pain. Pain that has lasted for longer than three months is considered to be chronic and will need to be followed by a pain management specialist and possibly a team of providers for the best results in continued pain control.
Majid Ghauri, MD Interventional Pain Management Specialist. Medical Director and Founder of Spine and Pain Clinics of North America (SAPNA)