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What is Pain Management?

Dr. Seth Waldman in operating room

If you had heart problems, you would most likely consult a cardiologist. The same logic applies to pain problems – if you have acute or persistent pain, you should consult a pain management physician.

Whether your pain stems from nagging back or neck pain, an acute sports injury, a recent operation, osteoarthritis or complex regional pain syndrome, pain management physicians are specialized in relieving pain so that patients can continue to live their lives.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions patients ask pain management specialists:

What is a pain management physician?

Pain management physicians have chosen to focus their medical knowledge and expertise on relieving pain. Each physician is board-certified in a primary specialty (such as anesthesiology, neurology, physiatry, psychiatry, or internal medicine), and then spend at least one additional year of fellowship training certified by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), which provides a separate board examination in pain management. Your pain management specialist should be board-certified twice.

What types of pain do pain management specialists treat?

Pain management physicians treat an extensive array of conditions that cause pain, including:

  • Back, neck pain
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Sports injuries
  • Post-surgical pain
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
  • Headaches
  • Nerve injuries
  • Cancer pain
  • Sciatica
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Facet Syndrome

How can pain management physicians help?

Treating painful conditions requires a multi-modal approach, and your pain management physician will work with you to develop an individualized approach to improve your symptoms. These approaches might combine both interventional procedures and non-invasive therapies — and when necessary, pharmaceutical intervention. Pain management services range from epidural and other spinal injections, to rehabilitation, to acupuncture.

Nearly 75 million Americans, aged 20 years and older, report having pain that lasts more than 24 hours. For those patients, consulting a pain management physician can help restore vitality and improve quality of life.

Reviewed on August 7, 2018. 

Dr. Seth Waldman is the Director of the Division of Pain Management at Hospital for Special Surgery. Dr. Waldman has more than 15 years of experience in the field of interventional and medical pain management. He specializes in therapeutic and diagnostic spinal injections and the management of neurologic pain.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.