Choosing A Pain Clinic: The Basics

Choosing A Pain Clinic: The Basics

Billions of people around the world live with chronic pain, which has given rise to one of the newest specialties in modern medicine: Pain management. These doctors, often working with a diverse team of helpers, are trained to diagnose and treat conditions with numerous techniques available to mitigate their patients’ pain.

The success of pain management is well documented. Not only to pain clinic patients live with lower levels of pain – or no pain at all – they also enjoy less emotional distress, which comes when living with acute pain. Among the ancillary benefits of pain management, relationships improve. Patients sleep better and feel more rested. During the day, their energy level rises, as they spend less of their energy thinking about and dealing with pain.

A pain management specialist starts with either a medical degree or a degree in osteopathic medicine

What is a pain specialist?

To start with, a pain management specialist is a doctor. But there are various levels of accreditation for doctors and two different organizations that certify pain management specialists.


A pain management specialist starts with either a medical degree or a degree in osteopathic medicine. These are referred to as an M.D. (doctor of medicine) or a D.O. (doctor of osteopathic medicine). They must also pass the U.S. Medical License Exam.

After that, doctors generally pursue a residency program, although this is not necessary to practice medicine in the United States. Many doctors, however, choose to complete a residency program.

As a specialty, pain management includes three different areas doctors may choose to specialize in. These include anesthesiology, physical pain, and rehabilitation or neurology.

Other specialties pain management specialists chose are radiology, emergency medicine, radiology, and psychiatry. Each of these provides valuable training foundations for pain management.


After residence is completed, doctors can seek certification through the American Board of Medical Specialties. If they go on this path, they can also take additional training to complete a fellowship in pain management.

Doctors can also seek certification with the American Board of Pain Medicine, which requires completion of a residency for a certificate. This certification, however, is not available in every state.


Pain management specialists can orient their practices towards a variety of treatment approaches. While may specialists offer a variety of the following techniques, many concentrate on what they do best while working with an established team of experts in order to offer patients the widest possible range of treatment options. These options include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Chiropractic services
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Psychological counseling
  • Cognitive treatment
  • Water therapy
  • Nutrition counseling

Not every pain clinic can offer a full range of options. However, if they cannot, don’t be discouraged if the pain clinic you chose is short one or two options, as long as they are open to referring patients to the right specialist when the time comes. (Teamwork is not always just in one clinic. Sometimes it involves the local medical community.)

What questions should you ask?

When you arrive at a pain management clinic for the first time, be ready with questions to find out what kind of treatment options they offer. You should also ask about the certifications and training of the doctors.

You should also ask about how much the clinic relies on opioid pain medication. Addiction to opioid pain medicine is a major concern throughout the medical community. Be sure to discuss your own medical history with special consideration for any substance abuse or addiction that you may be dealing within your life.

Seek Help

The experts at Sorrento Valley Pain Relief Center in San Diego can help you devise a long-term strategy for pain mitigation. Call 858-404-5944 for help as soon as possible.

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