If you are ready to take the next step from your regular physician to a pain specialist, there are many options that you should consider before going. First, you should ask your doctor who they recommend. If you trust your doctor, they may be able to provide you with information and resources to consider. Next, identify what you want out of your specialist. Different specialists use various therapies. If you have already tried the therapies that they offer, try someone else.
It is very important to do your research before you are treated. When you come across a specialist find out what types of pain therapies are offered, what their credentials are, and if they have successfully treated your kind of pain. When you make an appointment, you don’t have to commit. Consultations are enough to see if you are comfortable with the team or not. If you don’t feel comfortable, go with your gut. When you are meeting all of these specialists, ask a few of these questions in your head:
- – Is the staff compassionate and respectful?
- – Does the specialist share my goals?
- – Does the specialist believe in my pain?
- – Does he/she develop treatments based on individual needs?
- – Does he/she involve my family in treatment goals?
- – Do I also contribute to the treatment plan?
- – Will the team communicate with each other and me frequently?
- – Do they monitor my progress? How often?
- – Do they have a formal follow-up?
These are necessary questions that you should be able to answer after you meet with the specialist. A good specialist will create some goals and treat you accordingly. A great specialist will consider your whole life, routine, family and treat you according to your goals and individual needs. After treatment, they will keep in touch and follow-up with you to see if you are doing well or if adjustments need to be made.
If your doctor cannot help you, try asking the following for advice:
- – Local hospital
Ask if they are affiliated with any pain treatment center. If they don’t have one, ask to talk with the department of anesthesiology which may have doctors that are knowledgeable in the area and can refer you to another hospital.
- – Medical school
Your nearest medical school may be affiliated with a private or state university. There will certainly be resources there.
- – Organizations
Organizations that support pain research and advocate for pain patients will be able to help such as the American Chronic Pain Association and American Society of Anesthesiologists. More organizations can be found under the Resources tab.