If you're one of the 100 million Americans in chronic pain, living a full and active life may seem out of your reach. But with the right treatment and support, it is possible. You've probably already visited your regular doctor, but there are also experts who specialize in treating pain who can work with your doctor and you to help you find relief.
As many as 4 out of every 10 people will get sciatica, or irritation of the sciatic nerve, at some point in their life. This nerve comes from either side of the lower spine and travels through the pelvis and buttocks. Then the nerve passes along the back of each upper leg before it divides at the knee into branches that go to the feet.
Anything that puts pressure on or irritates this nerve can cause pain that shoots down the back of one buttock or thigh. The sensation of pain can vary widely. Sciatica...
What they treat: Back pain is a common reason people seek out chiropractors, but these specialists treat pain from all kinds of conditions, injuries, and accidents -- even chronic headaches. They don't prescribe medicine, but they use hands-on techniques to offer relief.
How to find one: Go to the American Chiropractic Association's web site (www.acatoday.org) and search on their "Find a Doctor" page.
2. Physiatrists or Rehabilitation Physicians
What they treat: Injuries and conditions that affect how you move. They diagnose and treat pain related to nerves, muscles, and bones including carpal tunnel, neck and back pain, sports and work injuries, herniated discs, arthritis, pinched nerves, and concussions without the use of surgery.
How to find one: Go to the web site of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (www.aapmr.org).
What they treat: Rheumatic diseases, including arthritis, gout, and tendinitis, which can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints, muscles, and bones. Treatments may include medicines or anti-inflammatory or pain-blocking injections in your tendons or joints.
How to find one: Go to the American College of Rheumatology's web site (www.rheumatology.org).
4. Orthopedic Surgeons
What they treat: Injuries and diseases that affect your musculoskeletal system, which includes your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves. Many specialize in certain parts of the body like the hips, knees, and feet. Once they diagnose your injury or disorder, they'll create a treatment plan that could include medicine. They might also recommend exercises (or refer you to a physical therapist) to help restore movement, strength, and function to your body and teach you how to prevent further issues.
How to find one: Go to the web site of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (www.aaos.org).