Pain has two distinct types; acute, and chronic. Acute pain refers to the pain that has a healing or recovery process with a predictable timeframe but chronic pain can be constant and can last more than three months. Chronic pain is one of the common reasons people seek medical care. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 20 percent of the US adult population suffer in chronic pain and another 8 percent have high-impact chronic pain. With the increasing number of patients, it is not surprising that there is a high demand for pain specialists.
The Pain Medicine Field
The field primarily focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery of the patients from their pain. The pain medical specialty started in the 1960s and then with an international professional association in the 1970s. The American Board of Pain Medicine established in 1991 as well as a certificate was created as an added qualification in pain management by the American Board of Anesthesiology.
Nowadays, there is an increasing number of professionals who assumed the title of “pain specialist”. Some of them may have undergone medical training in the field but the training isn’t enough to qualify them as pain medicine specialists. Pain medicine specialists are doctors but not all doctors are pain medicine specialists.
Pain physicians must have a certification from specialized training in the field of pain medicine, focusing on pain as a disease and pain as a symptom of other diseases and health conditions. Only doctors who have subspecialty certification in pain medicine are considered as pain medicine specialists.
Does medical specialty matter?
The primary specialty of the doctor may matter in treating your pain. It can be an indication of the conditions they are familiar with and how efficient they can treat your pain. An example of this is:
- Neuropathic pain – a doctor with a neurology background and is a pain medicine specialist is like to be more familiar and comfortable in dealing with conditions related to nerve pain and even headaches or migraines.
- Migraines – a pain management specialist with a background in neurology, anesthesiology, physiatry or family medicine can help in diagnosing and treating migraines.
- Back Pain – a doctor who has a background in physical medicine and rehabilitation would be more familiar with the causes and treatments available for the pain.
Their specialty may also determine the treatments that they offer such as:
- Radiologists – more likely to do their diagnosis through medical imaging but may not be part of treatment.
- Anesthesiologist – doctors have experiences in treating patients in pain with injections such as epidural steroid injections.
- Physiatrist – methods are more on non-surgical therapies like exercise and biofeedback.
Doctors may have experience and professional history with pain management and not have a special certification.
Specialty Care and Primary Care
Primary care providers are generally the first step in diagnosing and treatment for pain. They will conduct the necessary tests for diagnosis and then will refer you to a specialist. Furthermore, your primary care provider may have been given you medications since the symptoms of your pain, but you may ask your doctor to refer to you to a pain medicine specialist if:
- If you have reached the three-month mark without any pain relief.
- If the primary care physician still can’t find a health condition that is causing the pain. An advanced diagnostic skill from a pain medicine specialist is needed.
- If they only gave you opioids which are a default treatment for any pain conditions which poses serious risks to you since chronic pain requires a holistic strategy. This may mean that your primary care provider has limited knowledge in pain management.
- If the only option they gave is surgery, you should explore other options with a pain specialist especially if the surgery is a risky procedure. Pain specialists have more knowledge of pain therapies and can offer you more palatable options.
Who’s the best pain specialist?
Due to the prevalence of chronic pain affecting millions of Americans, there’s no doubt that these people are struggling in managing their condition. So who should they turn to?
Dr. Ronak Patel is the right pain doctor for you. He specializes in the treatment of back pain, neck pain, joint pain, facial pain as well as cancer-related pain. He acquired advanced skills in the innovative spinal cord and peripheral nerve interventions/ablation, fracture repair through vertebral augmentation, state-of-the-art regenerative therapy, and both ultrasound-guided and x-ray guided procedures while training with the leaders of pain management in the country. His goal is to bring expert, comprehensive, safe, and effective pain care to as many patients as possible.
Disclaimer: Information on this website is not intended to be used in place of your professional medical advice or treatment. Please consult your doctor or healthcare provider with any questions regarding a medical condition.