Skip to content

Pain Management Health Center

Font Size

Chronic Pain - When To Call a Doctor

Call a doctor about chronic pain if:

  • Your pain has lasted more than 3 months without a clear reason.
  • You are feeling down or blue or are not enjoying the activities or hobbies that you have enjoyed in the past. You may have depression, which is common with chronic pain.
  • You can't sleep because of the pain.
  • You had an illness or injury that healed, but you still have pain.

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is a period of time during which you and your doctor watch your symptoms without using medical treatment.

During this period of watchful waiting, your doctor may have you try to get more sleep, work on reducing stress, and get more exercise. If you are able to control pain with exercise, massage, and pain relievers, you may not need further treatment.

But watchful waiting is not appropriate if your pain is severe or if it interferes with your life. If you delay treatment, the pain may get worse.

Who to see

If you have mild to moderate pain that keeps coming back and that you can't manage at home on your own, you may need to see one of the following health professionals:

  • Family doctor
  • Internist, a doctor who specializes in the care of adults
  • Nurse practitioner, a nurse who has advanced training
  • Physician assistant, a health professional who practices medicine under a doctor's supervision
  • Osteopathic physician, a doctor who uses medicine, surgery, and other kinds of treatment but may also use manipulation or manual treatment

If your chronic pain is moderate to severe and is constant, or if treatment does not control the pain, you may need to see a specialist, such as one or more of the following:

  • Pain management specialist, a doctor who specializes in treating chronic pain
  • Physiatrist, a doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation
  • Physical therapist, someone who evaluates physical problems and injuries and then provides education and treatment
  • Neurologist, a doctor who specializes in treating the brain, spinal cord, and nervous system
  • Anesthesiologist, a doctor who specializes in using pain-blocking techniques and medicines
  • Psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed mental health counselor, all of whom specialize in treating mental health and behavior issues
  • Orthopedic surgeon, a doctor who specializes in bone, muscle, and joint surgery
  • Rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in treating autoimmune diseases and problems in the joints
  • Chiropractor, someone who specializes in treating problems that affect the alignment of muscles and bones
    1|2
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    pain in brain and nerves
    Top causes and how to find relief.
    knee exercise
    8 exercises for less knee pain.
     
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
    chronic pain
    Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
     
    illustration of nerves in hand
    Slideshow
    lumbar spine
    Slideshow
     
    Woman opening window
    Slideshow
    Man holding handful of pills
    Video
     
    Woman shopping for vegetables
    Slideshow
    Sore feet with high heel shoes
    Slideshow
     
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    Slideshow
    man with a migraine
    Slideshow