Pain management, pain killers, pain control, pain medication, alternative medicine, etc., are a large branch of medical science which makes use of an interdisciplinary approach to easing the chronic pain of patients and enhancing the quality of life of these people living with chronic pain. Although pain management is generally acknowledged to be a therapeutic rather than a strictly medical activity, it has both medical and non-medical aspects. Thus, pain management encompasses the entire gamut of pain treatment including interventions aimed at the prevention and control of pain as well as pain relief during the process of healing and rehabilitation. It also includes education, research and clinical management of pain in order to improve the quality of life for those who suffer from pain as well as to help make chronic pain more manageable and controllable.
So what exactly does a pain management specialist do? A pain management specialist uses all aspects of pain management to assist in managing pain and its consequences. This includes the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of pain. This may require the collaboration of other disciplines including pain specialists, physicians, psychologists, pharmacists, physical therapists, nurses, social workers, and others. The pain management specialist is always associated with one or more of these disciplines.
How do you become a pain management specialist? Like any medical doctor, you need to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree, pass a state licensing exam, and pass the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) certification exam. This involves taking classes on anatomy and physiology, diagnostic procedures and pharmacology, and administrative and clinical skills such as providing guidance to patients with pain. You will also need to have exceptional interpersonal skills, leadership qualities, and a dedication to the practice of medicine. Other required components of becoming a pain management specialist include:
Is a pain specialist qualified to treat both acute and chronic pain? Although most pain specialists are trained to treat acute pain, some specialize in the treatment of chronic pain, or pain that occurs after an injury or surgery. To become an expert in pain management, you should obtain a master’s degree specializing in pain management.
What are some typical tasks or assignments performed by a pain specialist? An out-patient specialist who works in a hospital or other care facility might screen patients for allergies, perform physical exams, administer medications, evaluate nerve signals, diagnose nerve disorders, prescribe medications, evaluate electrocardiograms, provide electrotherapy, refer patients to other appropriate specialists, evaluate laboratory values, perform immunizations, provide counseling, explain patient treatment options, and refer out-patient patients to appropriate outside healthcare providers. An in-house pain specialist might perform these same tasks in a clinic or office. They might also receive additional education and training in the treatment of their specific areas of expertise. An in-house specialist might also serve as the chief complaint handler in a staff-oriented clinic or office and be responsible for managing a range of multi-pronged interventions aimed at pain management.
Is a pain specialist right for me? It’s best to determine what your pain-related goals and objectives are before engaging a pain specialist. Many pain specialists are specialized in the treatment of specific types of pain and many also have additional skill sets such as addiction counselors or physical therapists. Your pain management objectives should be able to be met by a pain specialist with the skills needed to help you reach your goals.