A medical specialty encompassing several areas of practice in order to recognize, diagnose, approach, and treat the many different types of pain we experience, pain management doctors are often a bastion of hope for those living with chronic, severe, or debilitating pain. If you’ve never been to a pain specialist before, the idea can be a confusing one, as it’s not as clearly defined as some other medical specialties. But for those dealing with pain on a daily basis, the decision can be one of the best ways to get you back on your feet and enjoying more of your life again.
What is a pain management specialist?
According to sources like the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, a pain management specialist is a skilled and highly trained physician whose main priority is to diagnose and treat different types of pain and pain conditions. This pain can be caused by any number of things, from surgery and injury to autoimmune, musculoskeletal or metabolic conditions and beyond. When pain is the main symptom of your complaint, a pain management physician has the in-depth knowledge to evaluate and treat even complex painful conditions and disorders.
How do I find the right pain management specialist?
The best place to start if you’ve never been to a pain management clinic is with your primary care physician. As a general rule, pain specialists will want to work closely with your PCP, and having an easy line of communication is vital. Your doctor will know who works with your insurance, and may give you several options to choose from. Depending on your health insurance, you may actually need to go through your PCP in order to see a pain management doctor and get a referral in the first place, as well.
Don’t be afraid to research your potential pain specialist beforehand. Checking on his ratings, any complaints, and whether or not he’s worked with your particular condition before can all make your first visit go as smoothly as possible.
How does a pain management specialist treat pain?
Pain is a complex process, and everyone reacts differently to it. A qualified pain management center or doctor will evaluate your individual symptoms and tailor a treatment plan that is unique to your body, needs, and concerns. Some of the most common tools in a pain specialists’ arsenal include nerve blocks, cortisone shots, spinal injections, medication, and physical therapy.
What should I expect during my initial visit?
The best way to properly treat your pain is to understand is as well as possible. With this in mind, your first visit to a pain management specialist will include a detailed medical history and evaluation. The doctor will ask you questions, and may do a thorough physical examination.
Often, you will be given a form or questionnaire to complete with detailed questions about your specific pain issues. If you have had any recent labs, diagnostic tests, x-rays or MRIs, it’s probably a good idea to bring those results in with you.