Finding pain management doctors near you can be an exhausting task. From recommendations from friends to reviews online, there are so many options for finding one. But, once you’ve found a few you like, how can you narrow down the results to find the one that best suits you? More important, how can you find a doctor that can help you relieve your chronic pain? (And, as we’ll discuss later, how can you make sure you’re the best advocate for your pain as well?)
What do pain management doctors do?
As TreatingPain.com explains, the pain management doctor specialty was:
“[B]orn out of the need for treating all types of pain, including musculoskeletal, spinal and neuropathic pain disorders. With an accurate diagnosis and early intervention, we hope to help patients avoid spiraling into a state of chronic pain, or at least reduce the severity of pain, and improve patients’ quality of life. Minimally invasive procedures and proper use of medications are implemented to achieve those goals.”
Finding the right primary care doctor can already seem like a chore. Finding one that also specializes in chronic pain management? That can be even more difficult. And what should you look for when you do find options? According to the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine:
“The most important consideration in looking for a pain management specialist is to find someone who has the training and experience to help you with your particular pain problem and with whom you feel a comfortable rapport. Since many types of chronic pain may require a complex treatment plan as well as specialized interventional techniques, pain specialists today must have more training than in the past, and you should learn about how your pain physician was trained and whether he or she has board certification in pain management.”
Why should I visit a pain management clinic?
Pain management clinics offer patients more options than a primary care doctor when it comes to comprehensive and interventional pain management. As WebMD explains:
“Although pain clinics differ in their focus and offerings, most involve a team of health care providers that can help you with a variety of strategies to manage your pain. These health care providers are likely to include doctors of different specialties as well as non-physician providers specializing in the diagnosis and management of chronic pain. These providers may include psychologists, physical therapists, and complementary and alternative therapists such as acupuncturists or massage therapists. Together, they will put together a pain management plan for you.”
The National Arthritis Foundation also explains that pain management clinics can connect you with a variety of services in the community, including:
- Biofeedback specialists
- Physical therapists
- Massage therapists
- Vocational rehabilitation experts
Everyday Health also lists some of the healthcare professionals you’ll find at a pain clinic. Spine-Health.com also discusses the types of conditions best served at pain clinics. Once you’ve decided that a pain management clinic is right for you, there are a few steps you can take to get started on finding the best pain management doctors near you.
1. Talk to your insurance
Your insurance company may have different requirements for finding a doctor in your network. They may require a recommendation from your primary care doctor. Or, they could have a list of out of network and in network providers where you can start your search. Starting here — on the phone with an insurance consultant — is often your best bet for reducing a headache at the end of your search.
2. Ask your primary care doctor
Your primary care doctor likely already knows some of the symptoms and problems you’re experiencing. Talk to them to get more information about what could be causing your pain. If they think it’s appropriate, ask them to recommend pain management doctors you could try in your area. They can also steer you towards great pain management doctors or pain management clinics they’ve worked with in the past.
3. Talk to friends and family
Another important step may be talking to friends and family. Personal opinions are invaluable when finding the best pain management doctors near you. While online reviews or insurance company recommendations may be skewed, your friends or family have your best interests at heart. They can also be more telling when it comes to things like office environment and service, the pain management clinic cleanliness, and how quickly appointments can be scheduled.
4. Use a search tool online
Once you’ve exhausted all other options, it’s time to do your own research. You can find a great list of potential pain management doctors from the following sources:
The majority of these sites will list data from patients like you. This information may include:
- Reviews from current and former patients
- Disciplinary actions taken against them
- Professional memberships or affiliations
- Contact information for their pain management clinic
5. Contact the pain management doctor or clinic
Once you’ve found a pain management clinic you like, you can ask questions to make sure they’re the right fit for you. The Arthritis Foundation also offers some sample questions you can ask, such as:
- What treatments do you offer?
- How are your pain management doctors trained?
- How do you treat my condition?
Deciding on a pain management doctor is a big decision. You want a clinic that is prompt with answering questions and giving information or patient referrals when requested. If your call goes well, consider scheduling an appointment with a doctor to learn more about what they do and how they can help you.
However, once you’ve found a pain management doctor that works for you, you’re also responsible for being your own patient advocate. How can you be the best advocate for yourself? Let’s take a look at five ways you can adopt a hands-on approach to your pain management.