What to Look For in a Pain Specialist
You should choose a pain specialist who:
- Takes the time to interview and examine the patient before embarking on a plan
- Develops long term treatment goals
- Is available for questions
- Uses a multimodal approach, including medications, physical therapy, and injections
- Explains why procedures and medication are being used
- Explains risks, benefits, and alternatives to therapies
- Schedules follow up appointments with the same physician, thereby providing continuity of care
- Consults with other specialists and patient’s primary provider
- Actively participates in national professional organizations and advocacy groups for the treatment of pain, scholarly research, and education in pain medicine
- Is trained through an ACGME 1 accredited fellowship program in pain medicine and has passed board certification examinations, which require successful completion of this training before being eligible to take this exam 2. The ACGME purpose is to ensure improved health care by assessing and advancing the quality of resident physicians education. In order to be accepted and complete this type of training, a physician must first successfully complete at least a four year residency program after medical school. The physician must then spend at least one additional year working solely in pain medicine, meeting specific training goals and demonstrating competency. ACGME is the only certification agency for all medical and surgical training programs in the U.S. All UCSD pain medicine physicians have been trained this way and hold this certification. Many physicians who call themselves pain physicians in the community have not undergone anywhere near this level of training and education.
- Performs injections ordered by another doctor without examining you
- Has not undergone formal fellowship pain training in pain medicine
- Has not passed or taken board certification examinations
- Will only consider one part of the treatment and is not interested in discussing all aspects of a patient’s pain
- Has one formula to make you better
- Initial treatment and follow up examinations are conducted only by "physician extenders"
Questions to Ask
- Do you have confirmation of a pain fellowship?
- Do you have confirmation of added Certification of Pain Medicine for the American Board of Anesthesia?
- Are you part of national, professional, pain organizations?
- Are you up to date with the current recommendations and standards of care for pain medicine?
1. Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education
2. American Board of Anesthesia Added Certification in Pain Medicine