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Pain Management: Doctors Who Treat Pain

Pain specialists, or pain medicine doctors, are experts at diagnosing the cause of pain and then treating it. Anesthesiologists, neurologists, and neurosurgeons most frequently specialize in pain management. Some physiatrists also specialize in pain management. Here's more about these specialists: 

  • Anesthesiologists: These doctors are often the leaders of a team of other specialists and doctors who work together to help manage pain. The team may include orthopedists (doctors who deal with the prevention or correction of injuries or disorders of the bones and skeletal system), nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physical or rehabilitation therapists, and others.
  • Neurologists: Doctors who diagnose and treat diseases of the nervous system.
  • Neurosurgeons: Doctors who perform surgery on the nervous system.
  • Physiatrists: Doctors who specialize in physical medicine, which is a branch of medicine that deals with the treatment, prevention, and diagnosis of disease by physical means including manipulation, massage, and exercise.
  • Orthopedic surgeons


Things to Consider When Choosing a Pain Specialist

The following are some guidelines to consider when choosing a pain specialist. Select a doctor who:

  • Is knowledgeable about pain and its treatments
  • Listens well
  • Seems honest and trustworthy
  • Has a good reputation in the community
  • Encourages you to ask questions and allows you to disagree

What to Expect When You See a Pain Specialist

A pain specialist will work closely with your primary care doctor to assess the cause of the pain and find appropriate treatment options. Most likely, the pain specialist will perform a complete physical exam. In addition, the doctor will ask you to describe the pain you are feeling in detail, explaining where it hurts, how long it has been hurting, and what worsens or alleviates the pain.

How Is Pain Treated?

Research has led to the development of newer, more effective treatments for people who have pain. Many techniques previously used specifically to make surgery and childbirth less painful now are being used to relieve other pain symptoms. Most kinds of pain have become treatable through methods including medications, nerve blocks, physical therapy, electrical stimulations, surgery, and psychological support.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on August 01, 2013
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