What Does a Pain Management Doctor Do?
Car accidents cause serious injuries including broken ribs, muscle damage, nerve problems, and other injuries. Anyone who slips and falls is likely to injure their back, limbs, neck, and other parts of their body. Many workers can suffer pain due to a wide variety of accidents in professions such as construction, hospital work, retail work, and every type of job.
In addition to treating with the local ER doctors, family doctors, orthopedists, and other doctors; many people work with physical therapists and occupational therapists. For many accident victims, one other type of doctor they see is a pain management doctor. For some victims, the acute pain is more than they can bear. The pain can also become chronic – last for months or even years.
Patients usually develop pain directly from the accident. They can also suffer pain from the surgeries to treat the most immediate medical problems.
The pain management profession
Pain management doctors are specially trained in their field and need to obtain the correct licenses and certifications to practice pain management. These doctors begin any analysis by taking an oral history and conducting relevant tests. These are the initial steps in making a diagnosis.
Once they understand what is causing your pain, they will explain the various treatment options and medication options. They often work with a variety of other healthcare providers such as chiropractors, physical therapists, psychologists, neurologists, and psychiatrists. Other therapies can include massage, yoga, meditation, and acupuncture. Therapies can also can include better nutrition and an exercise program.
How does an accident victims find a pain management doctor
Generally, patients are referred to a pain management doctor. The referral may come from a general practice family doctor. Another specialist may refer the accident victim. Personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers often make pain management physician recommendations.
Causes of pain
There are 24 vertebrae in the spine. Between the vertebrae are discs. If a disc is damaged, the vertebrae can rub against each other causing pain.
Pain can also be due to damage to nerves, muscles, ligaments, and joints. Broken bones can cause a lot of pain. There are many causes of pain.
The initial pain management visit
The doctor will take an oral history. This will include questions about the accident, your reactions to the accident, your family history, your physical condition before the accident, and other questions.
Also, the doctor will likely have the patient undergo certain imaging diagnostic tests. These may include X-Rays, CT scans, and MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging scans).
Conditions that pain management doctors are looking for
When doctors order diagnostic tests, they are generally looking to see if the accident victim has any one of the following conditions:
- Back pain
- Cancer pain
- Knee pain
- Leg pain
- Hip pain
- Neck pain
- Disc herniation
- Head pain
Possible pain management treatments
The treatment options will vary depending on the source and severity of your pain
Some of the treatments include:
- Disc Decompression
- Discography, Intrathecal pump implant
- Epidural Injections
- Facet Nerve Blocks
- Major joint injections
- Sacroiliac joint injections
- Spinal Cord Stimulation
- Stem Cell Therapy
- Spine Facet Joint Injections
Then, there are other treatments such as radiofrequency and vertebroplasty
Many pain management doctors use steroid injections with the help of a fluoroscope machine. The machine can help find the source of the pain. The pain management doctor will normally inject a contrast dye to help the doctors decide where to inject the medicine. The doctor then injects an anti-inflammatory medicine into the targeted location. The medicine often helps to reduce inflammation and swelling.
The medicine usually consists of two parts:
There’s a corticosteroid. This is the anti-inflammatory medicine. This medicine generally provides long term relief.
Also, a local anesthetic pain relief medicine. This medicine helps to provide short-term relief. But the anesthetic does not reduce any inflammation.
The injection procedures are also often performed at an ambulatory surgery center. Thus, patients usually have the procedure and leave, after being monitored, the same day.
Most patients require several injections before they being to feel any relief.
PRP (Platelet-Rich-Plasma) therapy
This is a newer regenerative medicine technique. Here, the accident victim’s own blood is used to increase the level of platelets. The platelets are then injected into the area that is painful. It may also take a few weeks before some patients begin to feel relief. But, PRP treatments don’t always work. Pain management doctors will claim that when the treatments do work, the repair should be permanent. PRP treatments are usually minimally invasive.
The medications can vary depending on whether the pain management doctor is willing to prescribe opioid medications. Because of the current opioid crisis, many pain management doctors are not willing to prescribe opioids. They usually are willing to prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and other medicines.
Spinal Cord Stimulation
A new technique gaining in popularity for treating pain is an electronic cord stimulator. This is an electronic device which the accident victim can modulate once the stimulator is inserted in their body. Typically, a pain management doctor will do a trial simulation to see if the stimulator does indeed help reduce the person’s pain. Then, if the simulation is a success, a neurosurgeon does the actual implant of the spinal cord stimulator