Stony Brook Medicine Health News
Pain management specialist

What is a Pain Management Specialist?

If you’re dealing with chronic pain, you’re not alone. An estimated 20% of U.S. adults experienced chronic pain in 2021, and almost 7% had high-impact pain that affected their quality of life. 

Understanding how a pain management specialist can help is the first step toward finding relief and getting back to your usual activities. 

What is a Pain Management Specialist?

A pain management specialist is a healthcare provider who helps people manage chronic pain, including pain due to injuries or conditions like arthritis or neuropathy. 

Chronic pain is defined as persistent pain that lasts for an extended period, typically beyond the normal healing time for an injury or illness. It often persists for three months or longer and can continue even after the initial injury or condition has healed.

Pain management specialists are highly trained and skilled in diagnosing and treating a wide range of persistent pain conditions that can last for months or even years. Their primary goals are to identify the root causes of pain, restore the patient’s functionality and reduce discomfort.

Pain management specialists can help to treat pain caused by:

  • Back or neck injuries
  • Arthritis
  • Joint pain of the knee, hip and other areas
  • Sciatica
  • Neuropathy
  • Migraine headaches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Post-surgical pain
  • Cancer-related pain
  • Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Pelvic pain syndromes
  • Sports injuries

Treatments and Care Provided by Pain Management Specialists

When working with a pain management doctor, the treatment approach will depend on your unique needs and the underlying causes of your pain.

Here’s an overview of what these specialists do to help treat patients:

  • Comprehensive evaluation:  Assessments, physical examinations, a review of your medical history, and diagnostic tests can help determine the underlying causes of pain.
  • Personalized treatment plans: Individualized treatment plans can include the use of medications, injections, physical therapy, complementary therapies or minimally invasive procedures. For example, pain specialists can provide anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, prescription painkillers, massage therapy, biofeedback training and more.
  • Collaboration with other healthcare providers: Pain management specialists work closely with other providers, such as primary care physicians, physical therapists and psychologists, to ensure coordinated care and a holistic approach to treatment. 
  • Patient education and support: They provide education about pain management techniques and lifestyle modifications to help you better cope with symptoms. 

When to See a Pain Management Specialist

Here are some indicators that it may be time to schedule a consultation with a pain management specialist:

  • Persistent or severe pain: Pain that’s strong enough to significantly impact your daily activities, ability to function and quality of life.
  • Failure to respond to other treatments: Pain that has not improved with initial treatments or medications, including over-the-counter drugs or non-invasive therapies.
  • Poor recovery from injuries or surgeries: Discomfort and limited mobility that lasts more than several weeks after an injury or surgery.

At the Center for Pain Management at Stony Brook, our healthcare professionals specialize in diagnosing and treating chronic pain. We understand the complexities and suffering associated with persistent pain, offering a comprehensive, personalized approach to management. Our double board-certified physicians tailor treatment plans to alleviate pain and enhance functionality, utilizing state-of-the-art modalities to address long-term pain conditions.

  • William M Caldwell, DO
    Pain Medicine
    Clinical Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology

    I am a double-board certified physician in anesthesiology and pain medicine. I am committed to providing evidence-based, multi-disciplinary care to create a truly individualized treatment plan tailored to each patient’s unique needs and priorities. My expertise lies in the management of complex pain originating from the spine, sciatica, spinal stenosis, complex regional pain syndrome, vertebral compression fractures, arthritis of the spine and joints, persistent pain after surgery, and neuropathic pain.

This article is intended to be general and/or educational in nature. Always consult your healthcare professional for help, diagnosis, guidance and treatment.