Pain management doctors are physicians who specialize in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating each type of pain. These doctors, because of their advanced training, treat almost every type of pain, from acute pain in the legs to pain related to cancer. They are also well versed with treating chronic pain lasting for three months or more. Chronic pain is not easy to diagnose and the patients suffering from chronic pain need one or more than one therapies for the treatment of chronic pain. Sometimes, it takes months, or even years, for the treatment to show results, and the patients need to take care throughout their lives.
There are various types of pain that a pain management doctor treats, such as those listed here:
- Nerve pain
- Hip pain
- Neck pain
- Knee pain
- Lower back pain
- Head pain and migraines
- Complex regional pain syndrome
What is the role of pain management doctors?
For treating the pain of a patient, every doctor has to go through various steps in the treatment procedure. These are as follows:
Diagnose the cause of the pain: This is the first step in the treatment process that diagnoses the exact cause of the pain and the conditions that lead to it. It is not easy to diagnose the reason behind the pain. Pain in the lower back may arise due to many conditions. For example, the musculoskeletal nature of pain can be attributed to long hours of sitting on the working desk or exercising in excess. In this pain, your forward-leaning head puts pressure on the neck, and this causes pain in the bottom of the back. Lower back pain may occur due to spinal stenosis and may relate to sciatica. In addition to that, it may also occur due to arthritis and degenerative disc disease.
Discussion about the potential of therapies: Pain management doctors may further conduct trials on the patients whose pain is not treated by any previous therapies. If the pain is diagnosed by the doctor, they check the available therapies for the patient’s condition and apply the one that is best suited for the condition. Experienced pain doctors use pharmaceutical treatment with complementary therapies for pain relief. In the case of some patients, complementary therapies decrease the number of medications required. There are various complementary therapies, which are as follows:
- Weight loss
- Diet changes
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic care
Medication may include the following:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication
- Muscle relaxers
Coordinates care between multiple professionals: Pain management doctors set a plan for the management of pain. It is the third step of the treatment. Once the pain management doctor finds the best therapy for the condition of the patient, they start coordinating with the vast network of healthcare professionals for the care of the patient. Apart from relying on medical care, the patient should also play an active part in taking care of their health. The advice and suggestions given by the doctor should be duly followed.
Interventional treatment: It is the fourth step of the treatment process in which if a patient wants interventional treatment, the doctors are ready to perform the task. This treatment includes neuromodulation and steroid injections. A trained and professional pain management doctor combines interventional treatment with complementary therapies. Doing so helps in increasing the health outcomes and decreasing any side effects that may arise.
Continue the ongoing care for mental and physical concerns: Sometimes, pain management doctors are not able to provide full relief to the patient because if someone is suffering from chronic pain, there is a need for continuous treatment. This, in turn, might put mental and physical stress on the patient. Thus, the role of the doctor is not only to treat the symptoms but also to ensure that the patient is mentally and physically fit to take the treatment.
When should you visit a pain management doctor?
You should visit a pain management doctor as soon as possible if the symptoms listed below are seen:
- If the pain is limiting the number of activities you can take on
- If you haven’t found relief after trying natural therapies at home
- Your family doctor hasn’t been able to detect the cause of your pain
- If the pain has lasted for more than 3 months
Your doctor will focus on diagnosing the main cause of your pain during your first visit. Hence, you should carry along the following things:
A pain journal that details your triggers, symptoms, and pain intensity over a given phase
- An X-ray, treatment history, or MRI scan reports
- A list of any medications you’re currently taking
- Your insurance details
- Any details about what makes your pain better or worse
- Explain precisely how you’re feeling and what you’ve tried. Good pain management doctors will always pay attention to your concerns.