Finding pain management doctors near you can be an exhausting task. From taking recommendations from friends to looking through endless reviews, there are so many options for finding one. But once you find a few that you think you might like, how can you narrow down the results to find the one that best suits you? More importantly, how can you be sure that the doctor you picked can help you relieve your chronic pain? And how do you make sure you’re the best advocate for your pain relief?
Finding the right primary care doctor can already seem like a chore. Finding one that specializes in chronic pain management, that can even be more difficult. And what should you look for when you do find the options? According to the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine: “The most important consideration in looking for a pain management specialist is to find someone who has the training and experience to help you with your particular pain problem and with whom you feel a comfortable rapport. Since many types of chronic pain may require a complex treatment plan as well as specialized interventional techniques, pain specialists today must have more training than in the past, and you should learn about how your pain physician was trained and whether he or she has board certification in pain management.”
Here are the steps you can take to get started on finding the best pain management doctors near you.
Talk to your insurance
Your insurance company may have different requirements for finding a doctor in your network. They may require a recommendation from your primary care doctor. Or, they could have a list of out-of-network and in-network providers where you can start your search. Starting here, on the phone with an insurance consultant, is often your best bet for avoiding an ‘insurance headache’ at the end of your search.
Ask your primary care doctor
Your primary care doctor likely already knows some of the symptoms and problems you are experiencing. Talk to him to get more information about what could be causing your pain. If he thinks it’s appropriate, ask him to recommend pain management doctors you should try in your area. He should be able to steer you towards great pain management doctors or pain management clinics that he has worked successfully with in the past.
Talk to friends and family
Another important step may be talking to friends and family. Personal opinions are invaluable when finding the best pain management doctors near you. While online reviews or insurance company recommendations may be skewed, your friends or family have your best interests at heart. They can also be more telling when it comes to things like office environment and service, the pain management clinic cleanliness, and how quickly appointments can be scheduled.
Use a search tool online
If you want to go further, it’s time to do your own research. You can find a great list of potential pain management doctors from the following sources:
- US News
- Rate MDs
The majority of these sites will list data from patients like you. This information may include:
- Reviews from current and former patients
- Disciplinary action taken against them
- Professional memberships or affiliations
Contact the pain management doctor or clinic
Once you’ve found a pain management facility that looks good to you, you can then ask specific questions to make sure they’re the right fit. Some sample questions you should consider asking include:
- What types of treatments do you offer?
- How are your pain management doctors trained?
- In certain cases do you offer surgery?
- Will I be referred to a different surgeon or do you have someone on staff?
- How do you treat my condition?
- Will other health specialists be consulted?
- What are the next steps if the recommended treatment doesn’t work?
- Are there self help options that can supplement medications, surgery, physical therapy, etc.?
Be the CEO of your health
Pain management can seem like a full time job. Tracking medicines and doctor appointments and all the other tasks associated with having chronic medical issues can easily consume most of your time. Not to mention the actual pain that is disrupting your life.
You never asked for this job and you probably wish you could quit. However, mastering the art of pain management is the best way to live your fullest life while feeling as good as possible. This title does not come with a corner office, but it is helpful to think of yourself as the CEO of your health. You’re the boss when it comes to the medicines you take, the foods you eat, and the lifestyle you live.
No matter how amazing your pain management doctor is, he or she unfortunately can’t follow you home and make sure you stick to their treatment. This is where you have to be the good boss, but also a good employee. The good boss will likely set lofty pain management goals, and the employee (you) must follow the orders of your treatment plan.
Come to appointments prepared
Make the most out of visits to your pain management doctor by preparing beforehand. First, it helps to make a list of the concerns you may have. This way, when you have the doctor’s ear, you’ll remember to ask about that sharp pain that’s new and seems to be unusual, for example, or any other concerns you may have. If something worries you, ask about it. It’s better to ask when you’re in the doctor’s office rather than start worrying once you return home.
Second, have a list of questions that have arisen since your last appointment. Feel free to ask your pain doctor’s opinion on new research that affects your condition. You might gain good insight on an emerging treatment therapy or learn about things you should or shouldn’t do that will impact pain levels.
Third, consider asking a relative or caregiver to join you for the appointment. It can be helpful to have a second ear because it’s hard to remember everything the doctor says during appointments. If, during conversations with your doctor, you don’t understand something, be sure to ask for clarification until the point becomes clear. Remember, you’re the CEO and need good information to move forward.
Practice good patient communication
Doctors can’t feel inside your body, so it’s important to be honest when they ask how much something hurts. If you brush something off, saying it doesn’t worry you, when in reality it does, your doctor won’t be able to ascertain the true depths of your concern and could also brush it off.
It’s important to have a doctor you feel comfortable talking with. Doctors need to have all the information available so they can make the best decisions about your treatment. Omitted information can have serious health impacts. Some types of medications, for example, can be contraindicated for smokers. No matter what the truth, your doctor can handle it and your health will always benefit from honesty.
Pulling it all together
Pain management comes down to finding the best pain management doctors for you, AND being the best patient advocate you can be for yourself. Both of these can help you reduce your pain levels and achieve a better quality of life. It’s not easy, but the first steps start now. Follow the steps above to find pain management doctors near you, but if you live in the Charleston, SC, area or the Lowcountry please call Southern Coast Specialists. We were created with one mission in mind: to help and educate people about their pain conditions and treatment options.