Most people will visit a regular doctor whenever they have symptoms that they feel should be checked. For many, the cause of the symptoms can be easily diagnosed by the doctor and a course of treatment (if appropriate) is recommended. However, for some individuals, symptoms such as pain may not have an obvious cause. In these situations, the regular doctor might refer the patient to a pain specialist. But what is the difference between the two?
The Benefits of Visiting a Pain Specialist
It is important to note here that pain specialists are also fully qualified physicians and will have had all the same training as a regular doctor – and more. A pain specialist has had additional training in the field of pain management and will have a wealth of experience when it comes to identifying the root cause of pain for patients.
Sometimes, the cause of pain is not obvious. Some people will experience ongoing pain for many months, which is known as chronic pain. Those with chronic pain are often referred to pain clinics like Utah’s KindlyMD, where they will have a consultation with a pain specialist.
What Does a Pain Specialist Do?
As mentioned, a pain specialist has undergone additional training in the field of pain (including what causes it). Pain doctors are trained in the different types of pain and how to diagnose the causes of it. They look for the underlying cause of the pain rather than just treating the symptoms.
These doctors will use traditional medicine in combination with other types of treatment such as lifestyle and diet changes, physical therapy, psychological therapy, and intervention techniques.
Pain doctors treat both acute and chronic pain as well as cancer pain. Chronic pain is classed as persistent pain that continues for more than twelve weeks. It may be constant, or it may come and go. Acute pain is the pain associated with surgery, burns, trauma, or a sudden illness. Cancer pain, as the name implies, is pain that is caused by the cancer or the treatment of it.
Some patients do not respond to traditional medication, and it may be that they need other types of treatment alongside it. At times, a pain doctor will provide a trigger point injection (TPI) into a muscle to alleviate pain. The injection usually contains a local anesthetic to numb the area and relieve the pain. TPI is often used for the treatment of tension headaches, myofascial pain syndrome, and fibromyalgia.
If pain is the result of an injury, physical therapy might be needed to help reduce disability and improve mobility. When a patient is helped to build flexibility and strength, the pain can begin to ease. Physical therapy can also help with poor posture that may be the root cause of something like hip or back pain.
Chronic pain is common in those who are overweight or obese; oftentimes, diet and lifestyle changes can be the best treatment. Losing the excess weight will reduce the inflammation and lessen the pressure on various joints. A pain doctor will often recommend that overweight or obese patients follow a specific nutrition plan and will advise them on how to introduce gentle exercise, which should help with weight loss and, ultimately, pain.
A pain doctor has been trained in medicine in the same way that a regular doctor has but has had additional training and education in how to diagnose and treat various types of pain.
While regular doctors might use medication to treat pain, a pain doctor will look for the cause of the pain and will use a variety of treatments and therapies to help their patients.