Pain management doctors specialize in assessing, diagnosing and treating various types of pain, ranging from acute pain to chronic pain and cancer pain, explains the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA). Their expertise encompasses treating pain resulting from nerve damage, injury, surgery and metabolic problems. They also address pain problems without apparent causes.
Pain management specialists are fully knowledgeable about the physiology of pain, and they are capable of evaluating patients with complex pain conditions, states the ASRA. They perform specific diagnostic tests and procedures, such as spinal injections or nerve blocks. They also recommend physical therapy, psychological therapy or a rehabilitation program as part of a complete treatment plan.
During an initial consultation with a pain management specialist, the physician reviews the patient's entire medical history, asks about previous tests or procedures, and performs a physical exam, according to ASRA. Before the visit, the physician may request that the patient answer a questionnaire about his particular pain problem and bring previous imaging results, such as X-rays or computed tomography scans.
Qualified pain management specialists have board certifications in pain management, notes ASRA. They usually go through a fellowship in pain management, in addition to residency, after finishing medical school.