June 5, 2018

Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Although it’s usually a symptom of a bigger issue, pain is occasionally the problem itself. It’s important to see the right physician for symptoms of pain, but who do you turn to in such a situation?

Before you can decide on a doctor, you must understand the difference between acute and chronic pain.

Acute vs. Chronic Pain

Acute pain typically occurs with tissue damage. It comes on quickly and lasts less than 6 months. The cause is often easy to find and treat. Causes of acute pain include but are not limited to:

  • Surgery
  • Broken bones
  • Infections
  • Burns or cuts

Chronic pain lasts longer than 3 months. It continues past the initial injury or illness. Some people suffer from chronic pain without having an injury or illness. Causes of chronic pain include but are not limited to:

  • Arthritis
  • Headaches
  • Cancer
  • Nerve pain
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia

Primary Care Physician vs. Pain Management Specialist

If the cause of your pain is easy to find, and the pain lasts less than 3 months, your primary care physician is a great place to start for pain management. When pain becomes chronic and difficult to control, it may be time to turn to a pain management specialist.

What Does a Pain Management Specialist Do?

According to the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, a pain management specialist is a physician with special training in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating different types of pain. These trained doctors understand why pain happens and use special tests to diagnose it. They also perform specialized procedures that can treat pain, such as nerve blocks, spinal injections, and trigger point injections. Many people believe that pain management doctors just prescribe pain medications, but this is not true.

Pain management doctors treat your pain in a holistic way. They want to understand all the reasons behind your pain and then treat it physically, mentally, and emotionally. They often work with physical therapy, psychological therapy, occupational therapy, and rehabilitation programs to provide patients with holistic treatment plans. Some pain management specialists even use complementary approaches such as yoga, massage, and acupuncture.

Talk to Your Doctor Today About Pain Management

If you or a loved one suffers from chronic pain, talk to your primary care physician today. Let your doctor know about your struggles and that you would like to see a pain management specialist to hear about other treatment options.

 

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