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What is a Pain Specialist?

  • Category: Pain Management
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Aneesh Singla, M.D., MPH

Many people assume that all doctors can treat pain. So when I mention that I am a pain specialist they often say, “Why would I need a pain specialist?”

It’s a fair question. Yes, all physicians can address the occasional flare-up of acute pain caused by an illness or injury. But patients who suffer from chronic pain—generally defined as pain that lasts three months or longer—need the insights of pain specialists.

Through my advanced training and board certification in pain management, I have the knowledge and expertise to understand that unresolved pain requires a closer look into the source of the pain.

Underlying conditions such as arthritis, scarring or degeneration of spinal vertebrae will cause problems that home remedies and basic anti-inflammatories cannot always address. I can pinpoint the source and cause of your pain and develop a treatment plan that helps you live with less pain and greater function in your daily activities.

Not all causes of chronic pain are easily treatable. In some cases, we’ve yet to find the right treatment option; in others, the treatment may be available, but may not be viable because of a patient’s other health conditions or age.

I often counsel my patients to adjust their expectations around chronic pain. In some cases, our goal is not zero pain, because that is simply not possible. So reducing pain and avoiding zero function becomes the goal: we want to see patients still function in their daily lives. We want them to work, drive, shop, etc., so that they can enjoy the highest quality of life possible while still living with pain.

I explore this in greater detail in my book Why It Hurts: A Physician’s Insights on The Purpose of Pain in which I suggest a simple formula for living with chronic pain: Happiness (H) = Reality (R) minus Expectations (E). In a nutshell, this formula tells us that the odds of being happy and enjoying life will be better if we set reasonable expectations that will enable us to find contentment despite the presence of chronic pain.

Advancements in the field of minimally invasive pain management allow us to treat the underlying source of pain. This includes radiofrequency ablation of painful nerve endings, kyphoplasty to correct spinal compression fractures, or highly targeted corticosteroid injections that deliver pain-relieving medicine right to the problem area.

I am an expert in diagnosing and treating pain. Let me conduct a thorough exam so I can accurately diagnose and treat the source of your pain. Contact me today.

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