Would you be surprised to learn that pain is one of the most common complaints heard in doctor’s offices? Doctors deal with all sorts of diseases, maladies, and injuries. Unsurprisingly, pain is a symptom related to most of them. Sometimes however pain can be more than just an uncomfortable symptom. It can be life altering.
Perhaps you suffer from a medical condition typified by chronic pain. Your GP has advised you to see a pain management doctor, but you think maybe he’s just trying to pass you off because he doesn’t know how to help you. What should you do? Should you heed his advice or look for a new GP?
Chronic pain is not defined by root cause, severity, or pain type. Instead, it is defined by duration. Chronic pain is any type of pain experienced daily, or almost daily, for a minimum of three months. The pain can be anywhere from mild to completely debilitating. What makes it chronic is duration.
Pain that lasts fewer than three months is considered acute pain. There is a reason for classifying pain as one or the other: classification partially determines treatment options. For example, a surgeon would be very comfortable prescribing narcotic pain medications for two or three weeks following surgery. On the other hand, a pain management doctor would be uncomfortable putting a chronic pain patient on narcotics for the rest of her life.
Getting back to the original question, there are particularly good reasons to see a pain management doctor rather than expecting your GP to continue treating you. Remember that GPs are trained as internists. They need to know a little bit about a lot of things. As a result, they are unable to specialize in one particular area of medicine – including pain.
If you suffer from chronic pain, here are some valid reasons for heeding your GPs advice to see a pain management specialist:
Your GP may have advised you to see a specialist because there are no more options for prescription medications. You and your doctor have tried everything to no avail. Without any more prescriptions to try, your GP cannot offer you anything else. But a pain management specialist can.
Pain management doctors have access to treatments that go above and beyond prescription meds. For example, Lone Star Pain Medicine in Weatherford, TX offers an extensive list of treatments covering everything from spinal cord stimulation and nerve block injections to prolotherapy and regenerative medicine.
A chief characteristic of chronic pain is its tendency to impact quality of life. Perhaps your GP advised you to see a specialist because he noticed that your quality of life seems to be declining. If so, a pain management doctor is the most qualified medical professional to help you turn things around.
Yet another reason to see a pain management doctor is finding alternatives to traditional treatments. Perhaps your GP recommended prescription painkillers but you are not on board. You’re not keen about surgery, either. A pain management specialist can offer you alternatives.
Pain medicine is a specialty that concentrates on managing chronic pain. If you are a chronic pain patient and your GP has advised you to see a pain management doctor, consider that advice wisely. Seeing a specialist might be the absolute best thing for you. At least consider it before you throw up your hands and just live with the pain.