Living with Chronic Pain
Finding Your Pain Management Team
Treating chronic pain can be a complicated proposition. There are so many different causes and available treatments that it can be difficult to make sense of it all. A highly skilled pain management team can help you deal with your chronic pain, but it may take several specialists. For comprehensive treatment for your chronic pain, you may need any combination of the following specialists.
Your regular doctor is likely to be your first point of contact when you’re seeking treatment for chronic pain. They will potentially prescribe medications or other therapies to reduce your pain and refer you to specialists for diagnosis and other treatments.
Depending on your condition, you may see one or more specialty doctors. These include rheumatologists for autoimmune conditions or joint conditions, neurologists for brain or nerve issues, orthopedists for injuries or other musculoskeletal issues, physiatrists that specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of pain, or anesthesiologists to perform certain pain relief procedures like steroidal epidurals.
Getting moving can sometimes help relieve chronic pain, but getting started in that moving can be a very daunting task. You don’t want to injure yourself further through your exercise. PT and OT can help individuals learn how to move safely, plus help people living with chronic pain to prevent further deterioration. They help with recovery from injuries and surgery, too.
While chronic pain most certainly isn’t in your head, certain types of psychotherapy may be able to help you cope with your pain or even reduce it. If your doctor refers you to a psychotherapist for cognitive behavioral therapy or another type of psychotherapy, know that they aren’t discounting your pain. Therapies like CBT have been proven to help people living with chronic pain and are often a large part of inpatient chronic pain treatment, even.
Particularly for inpatient care, nurses handle the day to day parts of care.
A case manager may be assigned to help your care providers coordinate their efforts. They may also help you with medical billing issues and finding treatment providers.
Each chronic pain case is unique, and there are other specialists who may assist in your care. These include family and vocational counselors, dietitians, social workers, pharmacists, and other support staff.