One of the most obvious symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome is that relentless nerve and muscle pain. Most fibromyalgia sufferers experience chronic and widespread pain that can get worse when they are exposed to certain aggravating factors. Treatment of this chronic pain is essential in order to improve muscle strength, range of motion, and overall quality of life. Unfortunately, treating fibromyalgia pain isn’t always easy. A pain specialist can help to diagnose the cause of your pain and provide you with a comprehensive treatment program thereby reducing your pain symptoms.
What is a Pain Specialist?
A pain specialist is a medical doctor who has expertise in the diagnosis, management, and treatment of both acute and chronic pain. Pain management specialists offer a variety of treatment services, and may design treatment programs that incorporate medical, psychological, and behavioral therapies. Pain specialists usually work out of private pain treatment centers or pain treatment centers affiliated with hospitals or university medical centers.
Qualifications of a Pain Specialist
Pain specialists are typically practicing medical doctors who already have experience in a particular area of medicine, such as neurology, physiatry, anesthesiology, or orthopedics. This means that pain specialists have undergone years of training in basic medical practice and in specialized fields of medicine.
In order to become a pain specialist, doctors must spend at least one year completing intense training in the field of pain management. They must then complete a rigorous exam before becoming certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology or the American Board of Pain Medicine.
What Can a Pain Specialist Treat?
Pain specialists can treat a wide variety of painful injuries and illnesses. They often treat acute pain that occurs after an injury or surgery, but most pain doctors specialize in the treatment of chronic pain. Some conditions that a pain specialist might treat include:
- back pain
- neck pain
- arm and leg pain
- spinal stenosis
- nerve damage
- cancer pain
- neurological pain
How Can a Pain Specialist Help Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a very difficult illness to treat, particularly because so few health care practitioners are familiar with its symptoms. Pain specialists are particularly helpful for fibromyalgia sufferers because they are very familiar with the different aspects of the disease. This makes it easier for them to locate and treat sources of pain.
Pain specialists are also more familiar with and have easier access to a wide range of treatment therapies, including opioids. Unlike primary physicians, pain specialists are more willing to aggressively treat pain in order to provide you with relief. Pain specialists are also able to take on a leadership role when it comes to treating you fibromyalgia.
Your pain specialist will likely correspond with your other treatment providers in order to keep them up to date and on track with your treatment regimen.
What Tests Will a Pain Specialist Perform?
In order to diagnose the source and cause of your pain, a pain specialist will likely perform a number of different tests including:
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
- skin temperature monitoring
- muscle and nerve x-rays and imaging
These tests can help pinpoint areas of pain and may help to identify areas where muscles or nerves are operating abnormally.
What To Expect When you See a Pain Specialist
If you decide to see a pain specialist for your fibromyalgia pain, you may be a little nervous. Don’t worry though. The appointment will be much like your typical health care appointments, only in much greater depth.
Your pain specialist will begin by taking a detailed medical history. This will include any illnesses or pain that you may have experienced prior to your fibromyalgia. Your pain specialist will also ask you some specific questions about your pain. Common questions include:
- What does your pain feel like?
- Where is your pain located?
- How long does your pain last?
- What makes your pain better? What worsens your pain?
Your pain specialist will also perform a physical exam and may run some diagnostic tests in order to come up with a treatment regime. Pain management specialists usually offer comprehensive treatment programs, which can include a combination of medications, physical therapy, and psychological therapy. Typical treatments include:
- nerve blocks
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- physical therapy and massage
- depression treatment
Finding a Pain Specialist
If you are interested in seeing a pain specialist, you will need to get a referral from your primary health care provider. He will be able to recommend a pain specialist in your area. If you can’t find a pain specialist, speak to the anesthesiology department of your local hospital or contact your local governing board.