Pain specialists are doctors who specialize in treating chronic pain caused by various diseases and disorders. They generally operate at pain clinics that employ doctors from many different fields of medicine. This allows the pain specialists to create well-rounded treatment plans based on various pain-relief therapies tailored to the patients’ needs.
But what does all this mean for the patient? If you have your first appointment booked with a pain clinic or are thinking about seeing a pain management doctor, you’re probably wondering what it’s like to see one and what a pain specialist will actually do for you. Here’s everything you’ll need to know about seeing a pain specialist.
When to See a Pain Specialist
Anyone dealing with chronic pain should see a pain specialist. If you’ve been dealing with pain intense enough or long enough that you’re wondering if you should see a pain specialist, the answer is probably yes. For a more concrete answer, here are some indications that you should see a pain specialist:
- Your pain persists with a specific motion or movement.
- You’re struggling to perform day-to-day activities that you didn’t struggle with before. At this point, you’re experiencing debilitating pain. Seeing a pain specialist can make it so you can resume normal activities.
- You find that pain radiates throughout parts of your body, or that the pain is accompanied by tingling and numbing sensations. This indicates a pinched nerve, and it is something pain specialists can help relieve.
- You find you can only get through the day with pain medication. While this may seem like the only answer right now, it’s incredibly unhealthy to do this, and a pain specialist will be able to provide pain relief therapies that don’t solely rely on drugs.
- Your pain is preventing you from sleeping well. The pain itself is bad enough, but a lack of sleep will cause many other health issues. Poor sleep is something that needs to be treated whenever possible.
If you’re still not sure that you meet pain clinic requirements, you can always start by visiting your primary care physician to get their opinion.
What to Expect at Your First Appointment
Your first appointment with a pain specialist will be used to learn about your pain and the source of your pain so that the doctors can create a treatment plan for you. You can expect plenty of questions, such as:
- Where is your pain?
- What does your pain feel like?
- How often do you feel pain?
Because pain isn’t something that doctors can objectively measure, these questions (and many more like them) are used to better understand what you’re feeling. You can also expect questions about your medical history and a variety of diagnostic tests and imaging. It can also help for you to bring any copies of imaging you have done in the past.
Prepare for your appointment by starting a pain journal.
In the moment, trying to recall everything about your pain and accurately answer those questions can be difficult. We can struggle to correctly remember things in stressful situations, and we’re not always aware of when and how we’re feeling pain. If you have an appointment booked or are planning to book an appointment, now is the time for you to start a pain journal.
A pain journal is something that you can use to record your pain as it’s happening. Just write down a short description of the pain, where it’s coming from, and rate it on a scale from 1 to 10. You’ll be able to bring this with you to your appointments, which will provide the pain management doctor with an accurate description of your pain.
This may seem like a hassle, but it’s beneficial for your treatment. You can use an easy-to-carry journal that fits in your pocket, which you can readily bring out whenever you feel pain.
Types of Pain Treated by Pain Specialists
Pain specialists can treat pain of all kinds, whether it’s from injuries, disorders, or diseases. As long as the pain is persistent or chronic, it’s something that a pain specialist will help with. Here are some common causes of pain that specialists help treat:
- Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spinal cord injury
- Broken bones
Treatment Offered by Pain Specialists
While it’s easy to assume that pain specialists rely on pain medication to treat their patients, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Pain relief therapies are as diverse as the causes of pain, and treatment plans are put together from multiple disciplines to create healthy and sustainable ways for clients to live their lives free from debilitating pain. There will commonly be more than one type of treatment on a single plan so that patients can maximize their pain relief.
Here are just some of the treatment options that pain specialists can prescribe:
- Drug Therapy. Drugs are sometimes used, although specialists won’t only rely on them. Specialists will generally get patients to start with over-the-counter medication and see if that relieves the pain. If that doesn’t work, they’ll move on to prescription medication.
- Trigger Point Injections. This is a procedure meant to treat painful muscles using a local anesthetic injected into trigger points in the body. This treatment usually results in lasting relief.
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation Therapy. Commonly known as TENS, this procedure relieves pain by stimulating nerves with a low-voltage electric current. This sort of scrambles the messages sent to your brain so that it isn’t correctly receiving pain signals.
- Psychological Treatment. Chronic pain can easily affect your mental health. As part of pain treatment, it’s common to include psychological therapies to improve the effects the pain would have had on your health while it wasn’t being treated.
Treat Your Pain at the Carolinas Pain Center
If you deal with pain regularly and it’s affecting your quality of life, you owe it to yourself to go to a pain clinic. They’re trained to relieve pain of all kinds, and pain management will be able to help you live a better life. You can easily set up an appointment online. Take a look at our resources page if you want to learn more about pain and how it’s treated.