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First, Let's Talk About My Pain.
Pain can be explained as either chronic or acute. Acute pain is described as pain that has just occurred after an injury such as surgery or trauma to our body. Acute pain will improve over time as our bodies heal from this injury or surgery.Chronic pain, on the other hand, is an extended pain that lasts beyond the normal healing period and typically remains for more than 3 to 6 months and without improving.
While patients can typically seek care for acute pain in an emergency setting, such as an emergency room or urgent care clinic, patients who are suffering from chronic pain may benefit from a consultation with a board-certified Pain Specialist.
What Is a Pain Specialist, Anyway?
The American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine defines a Pain Management Specialist as:
"A physician with special training in evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of all different types of pain."
With specialized training and expertise in the examination and physiology of pain, a specialist can evaluate complex pain issues to determine the appropriate course of treatment from a wide array of options.
What Can I Expect from My Consultation?
During the consultation process, patients will have a interview that includes a medical history and a physical examination. Diagnostic tests, such as X-rays or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), may be medically indicated to help determine the source of the pain. In some instances, a referral to a different type of specialist may be needed. Physical therapy, medications, and other surgical or non-surgical interventions may be effective chronic pain treatments (see Treating Chronic Pain: An Interventional Pain Management Approach).
Living With Chronic Pain
Once pain has become chronic, there is no cure. However, with appropriate treatment and collaboration between the patient and doctor, pain can often be effectively managed to help the patient enjoy a better quality of life and perform activities of daily living.
Stay tuned for upcoming in-depth blog posts in our Clinician's Perspective series, including:
- What to Look For in a Pain Specialist
- Ways to Find the Best Pain Specialist
- Questions to Ask a Pain Specialist
- Exploring the Range of Pain Treatment Options
- What Can I expect in My First Visit?
- Patient Safety in Pain Treatment--Why It Matters
Download our latest free eBook, Solving the Opioid Epidemic: A Clinician's Perspective by AffirmHealth Chief Medical Officer Mario Ramirez, MD:
Timothy Miller, MD, is a board-certified Pain Management Specialist practicing with The Pain Management Group in Nashville, Tennessee.
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