How To Choose A Pain Specialist
Your doctor can tell you which kind of specialist you need and possibly give you a referral. In choosing a provider, youâll want to find out their general approach to managing pain and how they would treat you specifically. Pick a doctor who:
- Has the training and experience in treating your specific type of pain. Most will have done a pain medicine fellowship, which is training above and beyond a doctorâs training in a specialty.
- Is âboard-certified,â which means they have passed in-depth tests in fields such as anesthesiology, neurology, or physical medicine and rehab
- Listens well
- Has a good reputation in the medical community
- Encourages you to ask questions
- Allows you to disagree
If Pain Does Not Go Away
If your pain does not subside within six weeks, you may be suffering from chronic pain. The earlier you see a pain doctor, the better and faster you can relieve and manage the symptoms you are experiencing. Your pain management doctor can give you a proper diagnosis for your condition.
Your pain may be due to a musculoskeletal injury or condition, nervous system condition, or a mix of both. By determining the source of your pain, you can receive the most appropriate treatment. To give you a better idea, here are some examples.
Types Of Pain Management Doctors
Many years ago, anesthesiologists handled everything from prescription pain management to pain management procedures. Now, the anesthesiology and pain management specialties are separate, and its important to know the differences when selecting a provider.
Pain management, historically, has been offered via the field of anesthesiology. This started many years ago because anesthesiologists were well versed in medications, particularly local anesthetics, pain medicine and also in different types of procedures for nerves, such as nerve blocks and different types of spine techniques , Dr. Walia says. That’s where the history of pain management came from.
Currently, there are two types of pain management doctors: those who specialize in interventional procedures and those who specialize in medical pain management.
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What Is A Pain Management Doctor
A pain management doctor is a medical professional who focuses on diagnosing, treating, and managing pain to improve patients well-being. A pain management doctor treats chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia or back pain, but they can also treat acute pain problems like after surgery or an injury. This type of specialist helps reduce the need for opioids and other pain medications and improve the quality of life.
When Is The Right Time To Seek Help For Your Pain
Dr. Dowdell says its rare that anyone comes to him after a week of back pain. Its more common that people have been living with pain for months or even years, and finally they decide theyve had enough.
As with many health conditions, though, the sooner you get seen by a doctor, the better. If you get help within the first few weeks or months of having ongoing pain, you might be able to prevent it from becoming a lifelong battle, he says.
Whats more, having spine pain for a long time can create pain pathways from your back to your brain, says Dr. Dowdell. As pain signals travel back and forth, the pathways get more and more well established, which can make pain harder to treat later on.
A final note from Dr. Dowdell: Whenever you decide to seek help, you should understand that treatment may be a bit of a journey.
Youre not going to walk into the doctors office and walk out with a quick diagnosis, he says. When youre in pain, that message can be hard to hear. But treating back pain is something that needs to be done one step at a time.
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Pain Management For Specific Types Of Pain
Some medications are considered better for some types of pain compared with others, although factors such as the cause of the pain, genetics, interacting medications or supplements, as well as coexisting conditions, can all impact on how effective a medicine is. Possible treatment options for different types of pain are:
- Acute pain: nonopioids, weak opioids, opioids, nonpharmacological treatments such as ice or bioelectric therapy
- Chronic pain: nonopioids, weak opioids, opioids, antidepressants, capsaicin cream, nonpharmacological treatments such as bioelectric therapy, radiation therapy
- Breakthrough pain: short-acting opioid, nonpharmacological treatments such as acupuncture or relaxation techniques
- Bone pain: nonopioids, bisphosphonates, opioids, nutritional supplements, surgery
- Nerve pain: antidepressants, anticonvulsants, capsaicin cream, nonpharmacological treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Phantom pain: nonopioids, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, ketamine, nonpharmacological treatments such as acupuncture or repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation
- Soft tissue pain: nonopioids, corticosteroids, nonpharmacological treatments such as ice, physiotherapy, or ultrasonography
- Referred pain: nonopioids, cold/warm compresses, nonpharmacological treatments such as massage or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation .
Always talk to your doctor about which pain medication is right for you.
Chronic Back Pain Treatment Options Whats Best For You
If you are struggling with back pain in Central Pennsylvania, youre part of a vast group. Around 80 percent of adults, at some point in their lives, experience back pain. Its one of the most common contributors to missed work days and job-related disability, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke . The Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania provides chronic pain treatment options at our eight locations, including conservative methods and surgical procedures if needed.
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Who Is The Top Sciatica Pain Specialist Near Me
Youll find an entire team of the top sciatica pain specialists in your area at Pain Treatment Specialists. Our pain management specialists are not orthopedic surgeons or orthopedic doctors, and do not suggest back surgery unless it is medically necessary. Instead, they prefer to use more conservative back pain treatments like epidural steroid injections and facet joint blocks for sciatica pain relief.
Dr. George Hannas background in anesthesiology, pain medicine, and pain management make him one of the top choices for your sciatica treatment. His patient reviews commend him as the best doctor Ive ever had and that the personalized experience from every member of his staff radiates kindness and diligence. He takes the time to explain why conservative treatments are preferable over more invasive procedures, and makes each patient feel at ease in his pain clinic. He is also a former Clinical Instructor and Director of Pain Innovations and Technology at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Shane Volneys patients describe his care as life changing. They state that he is kind and compassionate, and truly treats his patients like family. Dr. Volney taught palliative care and anesthesiology for 7 years at Harvard Medical School, and also worked with communities in Kenya teaching local providers about the benefits and practices of interventional pain medicine.
Only One Pharmacy Is Allowed
You agree to get all your prescriptions filled at one pharmacy, and you agree to allow the doctor and pharmacist to share information about you. When people abuse drugs, they often try to get prescriptions from multiple doctors and then fill them at different pharmacies.
Because prescriptions are now entered into computers often with interconnected databases, this practice is currently much more difficult to get away with. Consequently, if you sign an agreement with your physician, be sure you only shop at one pharmacy.
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What To Expect From Your Pain Management Specialist
A pain management specialist is a doctor who evaluates your pain and treats a wide range of pain problems. A pain management doctor treats sudden pain problems such as headaches and many types of long-lasting, chronic, pain such as low back pain. Patients are seen in a pain clinic and can go home the same day. Pain management doctors offer a mix of medication-based treatments and procedures, that can stop the pain at its source.
Role Of Pain Management For Chronic Back Pain:
When it comes to chronic back pain, there are a variety of ways in which pain clinic can help. Most pain clinic interventions have the advantage of being low risk, minimally invasive, non-surgical options without any need for prolonged hospitalisation. The treatment plan is individualised and may include a combination of the following
- Patient Education
- Psychology input including relaxation therapy, coping and self-management skills, cognitive behavioral therapy
- Complementary and alternative therapies including Acupuncture, TENS, acupressure, meditation
- Dietary advice
- Interventions such as injections. These can be especially useful for people where the source of pain is not known despite extensive investigations. Diagnostic injections can help in reliably identifying sources of pain when investigations have been inconclusive. Some of the treatment options are not commonly available elsewhere and these include
- X-ray/ ultrasound guided injections like nerve blocks, epidurals, facet joint injections
- CT guided interventions in areas which require precision for accuracy and minimising risks
- Advanced techniques such as Radiofrequency treatment which can provide prolonged pain relief for common conditions arthritis of the joints in the spine
Research and technological developments have opened new avenues in pain management such as
- Newer technologies – cooled radiofrequency and spinal cord stimulators
- Regenerative medicine options including stem cells and platelet rich plasma
Why Choose Atrium Health For Pain Management Care
- Convenient care and quick relief. With same-day and next-day appointments at 12 locations around Charlotte, NC, its easy to get the care you need, when you need it.
- Expert care and experience. Our highly trained and caring experts know how to treat pain. Weve been helping patients for over 30 years.
- Your partner to find relief. Our pain specialists treat every condition from new aches to chronic pain. We listen, help you understand treatment options and create a care plan just for you.
- Complete pain support. We care for the whole you, including your physical and mental health. If more specialized care is needed, we offer fast access to Atrium Healths award-winning team of specialists.
A Pain Management Doctors Background
Pain management doctors have over nine years of medical training. First, they gain a broad education in medical school. Then, they get another four years of hands-on training in a field like anesthesiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, or neurology. Finally, they complete another year of training, that focuses solely on treating pain. This leads to a certificate from the American Board of Pain Medicine.
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What Type Of Pain Do I Have
Sometimes it can be hard to identify exactly what type of pain you are experiencing. The checklist below can help you to identify your pain type and other contributing factors. Fill it in before you see your doctor.
If you have a child that is experiencing pain, The Faces Pain Scale may help. This uses a series of diagrams depicting a face with no pain to intense pain .
What Happens When I Visit A Back Doctor
We gather a full medical history of your back problems and perform detailed physical examinations, said Dr. Guo. That includes checking for tenderness, spine range of motion, strength, sensation, and reflexes. Depending on your symptoms, we may perform provocative tests to find out what triggers your pain. We may order imaging studies, such as X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans. We may order electromyography and a nerve conduction study, which assess whether you have muscle and/or nerve problems that may cause your symptoms. We use all the information to help identify the cause of your back pain and associated symptoms, and provide the most appropriate treatments for you.
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What Do Doctors Do For Back Pain
Ready for some relief? Its no fun living with chronic lower back pain, and once youre ready to say, I want to find the best lower back doctor near me!, youre on the first step to living a better life. The pain management specialists at the Pain Treatment Specialists will first listen to your concerns, and then determine a care plan that best fits your current condition, level of pain, and diagnosis. Our Ivy League-trained doctors have a wide variety of non-surgical options to provide patients with long-lasting relief from chronic lower back pain. Some of the teams treatments include:
- Lumbar Radiofrequency Ablation: This treatment involves electromagnetic waves that travel at the speed of light. The wave, which is a form of heat energy, is delivered precisely to the nerve endings that radiate pain. For patients who have not experienced success with nerve blocks or injections, lumbar radiofrequency ablation provides a longer-lasting option of increased mobility and pain reduction.
- Lumbar Facet Injection: This treatment inject a small amount of local anesthetic or numbing medicine into small joints around the vertebrae. This numbs the facet joints, blocks pain, and provides relief from chronic lower back pain.
The Future Of Pain Management
New product innovations continue to grow the field of pain management. Dr. Walia highlights two new treatments that have helped patients with chronic spine problems.
First, neurostimulation, which is a device that sends electrical activity into the dorsal column of the spinal cord, can help reduce back pain and nerve pain down your leg. Neurostimulation can help relieve continued pain or weakness after a herniated disc or major spine surgery.
You implant this device in the spine, and it changes the pathway the brain sends messages to the spine, thus improving chronic pain, Dr. Walia says. It’s been a game-changer for patients, especially our spine patients who have had big surgeries and didn’t do well with them.
The development of the interspinous spacer has also helped patients who suffer from spinal stenosis, which is a severe narrowing of the spine. This metal spacer is a small implant that goes between your vertebrae to open the spinal canal and relieve pressure.
For many, many years we didn’t have options for those patients. Injection therapy was always an option, but the success rates were very poor less than 50% success rates, Dr. Walia says.
Moving forward, Dr. Walia has his eyes set on regenerative medicine. The therapeutic options mentioned above help reduce symptoms. The goal with regenerative medicine is to repair and be proactive against disc diseases and degenerative spine changes.
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What Can I Expect From A Pain Management Doctor
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Chronic pain affects millions of Americans, negatively impacting their energy levels and overall quality of life. But they dont have to suffer alone. Pain management clinics are designed to address the unique needs of chronic pain sufferers, providing diagnosis of and treatment for chronic pain with either a targeted or comprehensive full-body approach. If you or a loved one suffer from chronic pain, heres what you need to know about pain management doctors and how they can help:
What does a pain management doctor do?
Pain management doctors specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of pain, especially for patients with chronic pain that is difficult to diagnose. Once the doctor identifies the source of your pain, they can develop a treatment plan that works best for you. Treatment may involve physical therapy, medication, or chiropractic care, as well as nonmedical interventions such as yoga, meditation or dietary changes.
Types of pain treated by a pain management doctor
The list of medical conditions that can lead to chronic pain is long, but the types of pain treated by pain management doctors typically fall into three main categories: direct tissue injury, nerve injury, or a combination of both.
Examples of conditions that cause direct tissue injury pain:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Examples of conditions that cause nerve injury pain:
What Medicines Do Pain Management Doctors Prescribe
Most pain medicine specialists will address your pain in a stepwise fashion, choosing the safest medicine with the least side effects that provides the best relief for your pain.
For example, pain due to muscle injury or joint inflammation may be treated differently than pain due to a nerve injury, cancer pain or a migraine. In addition, a multi-pronged approach may be used, including use of physical therapy, talk therapy , or appropriate exercise to manage the pain you feel. In some cases, pain medicine may not always be needed.
A variety of medicines are available to treat pain, and include over-the-counter medicines and prescription drugs. Do not exceed the recommended dosages of any medicine you take, and review all safety warnings and directions with your doctor before treatment.
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What Should I Expect During My First Visit To A Pain Management Physician
Understanding the cause of pain is the first step in treating pain. In some cases, the cause of pain may be apparent, such as a spinal fracture. In cases of chronic pain, there may be more than a single cause, making the diagnosis difficult. A pain management doctor relies on the patients medical history as well as physical and neurological examinations.
On the first visit, a pain management specialist gets to know the patient and their specific pain problem. This appointment will usually involve a detailed medical history, both past and present. It is essential for the patient to describe the pain in terms that help the pain doctor understand. A stoic person may describe a pain as a 2 on a pain scale, while someone else might describe the same pain as a 6. This WebMD article may be helpful in describing the pain.
Often the patient is given a questionnaire before the first visit that asks detailed questions about the pain. The patient may also be asked to bring any imaging studies or other tests that have been performed. Other items to bring on your first visit to a pain doctor include:
- A pain journal that details your symptoms, the triggers, and pain intensity.
- A list of any medications you are currently taking.
- A list of pain relief treatments youve tried.
- Information about what makes the pain worse and what helps provide relief.
A good pain doctor will listen to your concerns with a compassionate ear and customize a pain management plan.