What Are Pain Management Doctors?
Pain management doctors evaluate, diagnose, and treat different types of pain. Acute pain and chronic pain are two forms of pain that many people suffer from. The field of medicine is always expanding and learning, and pain doctors work in a specific area of the field. Pain management doctors often work with other healthcare specialists, such as doctors and physical therapists. Of course, patients should visit a certified pain management doctor who has experience with the patient’s form of pain. Usually, the patient’s doctor will refer the patient to a pain management specialist. A surgeon or other specialist can also refer patients to a pain management specialist. First, pain management specialists will ask their patients about their pain and their medical history. Then, they might order imaging tests and use other diagnostic tools. Later, patients will return for follow-up visits to continue ongoing pain relief.1
Are There Back Pain Management Doctors?
Back pain is one of the most common forms of pain. There are a wide variety of conditions, disorders, and illnesses that cause back pain. Fortunately, there are also many healthcare specialists that can help patients manage their back pain. Chiropractors, rheumatologists, spine specialists, surgeons, neurologists, and pain management doctors can all help patients manage their back pain. Generally, most patients want to avoid surgery unless it is necessary. In some cases, the patient’s primary healthcare provider can help them manage their pain. However, many patients seek additional help for pain management. Specialists who have been trained in specific areas of medicine are likely to help patients find relief more quickly. Pain management doctors are one option, but not all patients want to treat their pain with medications. Patients have many options to build a treatment plan.2
What to Expect at Pain Management Clinics
Pain management specialists work at pain clinics. Pain clinics are healthcare facilities that focus on diagnosing and treating chronic pain. There are two types of pain clinics: interdisciplinary clinics and procedural clinics. The former approaches pain by looking at the whole person, and the latter focuses on specific types of pain. Pain clinics use medications and therapies to help patients manage pain. Often, pain clinics are populated by nurses, doctors, psychologists, physical therapists, nutritionists, dietitians, occupational therapists, and vocational therapists. Some pain management clinics also provide acupuncture, massage, water therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and meditation. Not all pain clinics are the same, so the patient will find one that works for their condition. The patient’s primary healthcare provider can refer them to a local pain clinic, and patients can do their own research into which clinic they want to visit.3
About Pain Management Contracts
Patients who suffer from chronic pain, long-term back pain, fibromyalgia, and other debilitating conditions may be prescribed opioid medication. The prescription of a serious medication usually comes with a pain management contract. Patients should learn about the specifics of their contract before they sign it. Primarily, the contract is an agreement that the patient will take the opioid drugs only as the doctor prescribed. The contract is meant to deter drug abuse, and it provides the doctor with protection if the patient abuses the medication. Unfortunately, some pain management contracts give an unbalanced power to the doctor. Some patients are concerned that they are viewed as drug addicts even though they take medications responsibly. Patients who do not follow their contracts may not be allowed to have more medication, and the doctor can dismiss the patient. Patients should thoroughly understand the contract before they sign.4
Fortunately, patients can seek out a chiropractor for pain relief. Chiropractors are trained to provide care without medications, unlike pain management doctors. Primarily, chiropractors use natural spinal manipulation to align the body and relieve pain. Further, chiropractors return mobility to joints that have been restricted by tissue injury. Chiropractic care can be used on its own, or it can be used as part of the patient’s overall treatment plan. Usually, chiropractors provide relief for back pain, neck pain, and headaches. However, they can also help patients manage their osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. Some patients should not undergo chiropractic care. Patients who suffer from osteoporosis, inflammatory arthritis, spinal cord compression, and patients who take blood-thinning medications should not seek chiropractic care. In addition to hands-on treatment, chiropractors can teach patients exercises and lifestyle changes to manage their pain at home. Patients who want natural relief should try chiropractic care.5
Massage therapy is often used to complement chiropractic care. In many cases, massage therapists and chiropractors share an office. Massage is another natural way to relieve pain. It can reduce stress, internally relax the body, and stimulates the body to promote healing. There are many styles of therapeutic massage. Deep tissue massage is one style, though it is painful for some patients. For example, patients who suffer from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome may require a lighter touch. Massage is generally safe, though there are some situations where it is not recommended. Massage therapists should not address inflamed skin or areas of infection. Patients who have heart problems, infectious disease, and certain skin conditions should not receive therapeutic massage therapy. Patients should also find a licensed massage therapist. The patient’s doctor can recommend a good, local massage therapist that will help with the patient’s specific condition and needs.6
Other Pain Relief Options
In addition to chiropractic care and massage therapy, there are other methods of pain management without drugs. The following methods are not as effective as medical treatment for serious conditions, but they can help with minor forms of pain. Meditation and relaxation are important for combatting pain caused by stress. Patients should try lifestyle changes for reducing stress in their lives. Natural endorphins, which combat pain, are released through exercise. Even a little bit of exercise every day can reduce the patient’s heart disease risk, control blood sugar levels, and keep weight down. Patients should try to reduce or quit smoking and alcohol. It is also important that patients keep track of their pain and what triggers it every day. They can use the information to avoid pain triggers and, if it becomes necessary, tell their healthcare provider about what aggravates their condition.7
Find out about more ways to manage pain through stretches and exercises.