What_is_Pain_Medicine What_is_Pain_Medicine What_is_Pain_Medicine What_is_Pain_Medicine What_is_Pain_Medicine What_is_Pain_Medicine What_is_Pain_Medicine What_is_Pain_Medicine What_is_Pain_Medicine What_is_Pain_Medicine What_is_Pain_Medicine What_is_Pain_Medicine What_is_Pain_Medicine
What is Pain Medicine:



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What is pain medicine ?

First, let's define what it is NOT !  Pain medicine is NOT pain management; pain management is simply providing some method to relieve pain (e.g. anesthesia, pills, injections) regardless of the cause of the pain.  Pain Management is not concerned with diagnosis, differential diagnosis, exploring causes of pain or examining the course of a pain disorder; it is simply the attempt to reduce pain by whatever means is chosen, regardless of cause, regardless of any other factors.

Pain medicine is an academic medical specialty involving the study of pain (Algology) and the DIAGNOSIS and TREATMENT of painful disorders.  The pain medicine specialist, who should be Board Certified by the American Board of Pain Medicine (or, in some cases sub-boards of other areas such as neurology/psychiatry, and rehab medicine), is interested in both diagnosing and treating (or managing) the pain disorder.  The pain medicine specialist is also concerned with addressing and managing those factors which make the pain disorder worse (e.g. psychiatric issues such as depression and anxiety spectrum disorders, insomnia, stress reactivity, addiction issues, and psychological and occupational factors) The pain disorder can be a chronic arthritic condition, it can be the long term results of surgical implantation of stabilizing metal, nerve damage, muscle damage, head injury, or a chronic disease such as diabetes (which often causes nerve damage in limbs).

Pain medicine specialists use physical examinations, neurological examinations, history questionnaires and imaging methods (e.g. ultrasound, MRIs, CT scans), and sometimes electrical nerve studies, to diagnose the condition causing the patient's pain.  Then, various treatment modalities are brought to target the pain disorder and its cause (s); these can include pharmacotherapy, neuropharmacology, injections of joints, muscles, and spinal targets, and the use of electro-medical modalities ranging from transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to P-stim (peripheral nerve stimulation), and sometimes the surgical implantation of spinal cord stimulators.  Patients are often referred for physical therapy or provided with home based physical therapy exercise programs to encourage movement and activity.  Sometimes opiates are used in severe cases to control pain, especially for brief periods, and medications that target specific types of pain are often administered, e.g. anti-spasmodics (muscle relaxers), anti-inflammatory agents, and neuromodulators that dampen nerve damage pain.  The adjuvant medications are also called opiate sparing agents, as they allow pain to be controlled with lower doses and less side effect load of opiates.    Additionally the pain medicine specialist may detect anxiety and depressive spectrum illness that has been shown to reduce pain tolerance; in such cases the patient's anxiety and/or depressive disorder is treated with medications, or the patient is referred out for such.

Summarizing, the pain medicine specialist is a medical doctor (MD) who is an expert in the causes and course of painful conditions, and in the diagnosis and treatment of those conditions using a wide variety of treatment modalities. 



 

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