Pain is one of the most common complaints general practitioners (GPs) and family doctors hear in their offices. The interesting thing about pain is that it is almost always a symptom of an underlying condition rather than a condition in and of itself. But identifying the root cause of pain isn’t always easy. That is why a GP may recommend a patient see a pain doctor.
The doctors at Lone Star Pain Medicine in Weatherford, TX specialize in pain. They have additional knowledge about pain and its root causes, knowledge that a GP may not possess. They explain that seeing a pain doctor is often the best option when the GP cannot help a chronic patient feel better.
What Pain Doctors Do
Pain doctors are licensed physicians with the knowledge and skill to diagnose medical conditions, come up with treatment plans, and prescribe medications. But their specialty in pain dictates that they do things a little bit differently.
So what do pain doctors do? The following four things summarize how pain doctors treat patients:
- Diagnose pain conditions through specialized testing
- Prescribe and manage medications where appropriate
- Perform specialized procedures like nerve blocks and steroid injections
- Help coordinate care among all members of a patient’s care team.
The most pronounced difference between pain specialists and GPs are the specialized procedures. For example, a patient would not normally see their GP for a celiac plexus block or medial branch block. Both are specialized nerve block procedures that GPs are not normally trained in. Pain doctors are.
Helping to Restore Function
A big part of the pain doctor’s job is to work with patients to help restore function. Pain is such that it discourages proper functioning of whatever body part is affected. But when a patient doesn’t use a particular body part, it grows weak. All function could eventually be lost.
Pain doctors know how problematic this can be. So they work hard to help restore function whenever possible. Restoring function prevents more serious problems and helps patients return to a more normal life.
Helping to Restore Well-Being
A person’s sense of well-being is often influenced by how they feel. So even minor aches and pains can inhibit the sense of well-being. This is something else that pain doctors are very much aware of.
In addition to helping restore function, pain doctors tend to put a heavy emphasis on restoring well-being. Their goal is to ultimately have patients who feel good both physically and mentally. Patients who experience overall positive well-being are more likely to report a better quality of life.
Discovering Unknown Health Conditions
Finally, there may be pain that seems nonspecific to a GP yet points a pain doctor to a known underlying condition. A good example is myofascial pain syndrome. This is a syndrome that involves multiple trigger points in muscle and soft tissue, trigger points that contribute to a continual sense of pain made worse every time one of the points is touched.
Myofascial pain syndrome is not easy to diagnose if a doctor is not experienced with it. It can leave a GP baffled. To the GP, it is nonspecific pain with no root cause. But to a pain doctor who knows its symptoms and manifestations, myofascial pain syndrome is much easier to diagnose and treat.
GPs recommend patients see pain doctors when they have trouble diagnosing the root cause of a patient’s pain. If you ever get such a recommendation, follow through with it. Pain medicine is a highly specialized form of medicine that has come a long way in recent years.