A pain management specialist is a name given to a doctor who is medically trained to treat, diagnose and manage the pain of a patient while improving his well-being.
So, basically, what does a pain management doctor do? To make it simple a pain management doctor will evaluate the pain or chronic pain that you have been suffering from and treat you with the help of medications.
What does a pain management doctor do?
As mentioned above, there are various kinds of pains that are treated by pain management doctors but as the specialists try to provide relief to the patients from chronic pains and other severe pains caused by serious ailments, the doctors tend to treat pains divided into three groups.
The first group comprises pains that are usually caused by a kind of tissue injury, like arthritis. Some of these pains are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis (this excruciating pain is caused because of any kind of autoimmune reaction such as the pain in small joints of fingers, toes, or wrists)
- Osteoarthritis (this kind of pain is caused by the aftermath of arthritis in the large areas of the joints such as hips and knees)
The second group comprises the pains that have been caused by any kind of nervous system ailment or a nerve injury. Some of these pains are
- Multiple sclerosis
- Neuropathy (the extreme nerve pain that is caused by HIV, shingles, and diabetes)
- Stroke or the pain after the stroke
- Spinal cord injury
The third group comprises the pains that are caused by both nerve and tissue injury simultaneously, like a backache. Some of these pains are
- Cancer afflicted pain
- Neck pain
- Back pain
What is the educational background of a pain management doctor?
The pain management doctors are well-trained specialists having training in their respective fields for more than nine years.
First of all, they get their education from medical schools. After completing their initial studies, they are supposed to get four years of training in the specialized pain-relieving fields such as anesthesiology, neurology or rehabilitation, and physician medicine.
After these four years, an extra year of training is required whether they are trained to focus religiously on treating and relieving the pain. Once these nine years of education and treatment are completed, a pain management doctor becomes eligible for a certificate received from the American board of pain medicine.
Pain management – A diverse approach to treatment
Not everyone directly goes to a pain management doctor. Whenever pain starts, a person will go to a general physician or a primary care physician which will treat the pain with physical therapy or basic medicines.
However, if the pain doesn’t subside then the patient is referred to a pain management doctor for further treatment.
The pain management physicians are trained better to treat the pain and that too in proper steps.
The steps are,
- The first line of treatment is treating the pain through medications such as antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatories along with an injunction that will completely numb the area of the pain or spinal injections to block the nerve compressions.
The pain management doctors also use Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulators (TENS), these are units that mainly use skin pads in order to deliver small voltage electric current to the pain-stricken areas.
- The second line of treatment is when the pain cannot be reduced by simple medicines and advanced medication and procedures are required to provide relief to the patients.
The procedures can be viscosupplementation or radiofrequency ablation (RFA).
Viscosupplementation is the name of an injection that injects lubricating fluid into the joints mainly to provide relief to arthritis patients.
RFA is a procedure where a chemical or heat is applied directly to the throbbing nerve to stop the pain. This method is also used for chronic pains such as arthritis or spinal pain.
- The third line of treatment requires the implantation of a spinal cord stimulation machine or a pain pump inside the body. These treatments become necessary as the patient is not getting relieved by the medicines or advanced procedures tried in the first and second line of treatment.
This implantation will help in relieving the pain from the spinal cord area which is known to be the center of the body for sensing any kind of pain.
Another method used in this line of treatment is regenerative treatment (stem cell treatment) when the pain becomes excruciating and inevitable.
The pain management clinic
A clinic of a pain management doctor will consist of all the procedure rooms for relieving the pain including x-ray imaging, CT scan machines, ultrasound facilities, etc. Sometimes the doctors have to perform these procedures in other hospitals as their clinics do not have these facilities. These procedures are needed to determine what line of treatment must be performed on the patient.
A pain management doctor is a specialist to help the patient get relieved from the pain that has made it next to impossible to function normally.
A pain management doctor will help you take control over the pain and empower you against the pain with the help of medication and proper treatment that might be missing at a general physician or primary doctor’s practice.
Some doctors might refer you to take sedation while being treated or also give you a “twilight” anesthesia so that their medication and procedure can relieve you from the pain for a long time.