While most patients usually experience temporary pain, a majority of them, actually over 100 million American experience endless pain. Chronic pain comes in different forms and can be dull or sharp, broad or focused, excruciating or distracting and sometimes debilitating. As you age, you become more vulnerable to suffering from chronic pain and the amount of pain you experience is also influenced by gender as well. Compared to men, women tend to report cases of more pain.

Pain can have serious effects

Your life can be affected by chronic pain in many different ways as noted here below:

  • Changes in mental health: In a survey taken by the American Academy of Pain Medicine, nearly two thirds of people that live with chronic pain experienced a decrease in their overall happiness in life and 77% of them are depressed.
  • Increased fatigue: Your daily fatigue can be affected seriously by pain and this can reduce your concentration, diminish the levels of energy and you have sleeping difficulties as well.
  • Decreased performance at job: The US suffers more costs due to chronic pain compared to diabetes, cancer and heart disease. According to health economists, $635 billions are lost per year due to chronic pain. Pain also limits people from advancing in their profession as well.

Getting the best doctor to treat pain

If you are in pain, visiting your primary health care physician is definitely the first thing you will do. In 2010, a national medical database was analyzed and it was found that about 13 percent of visits made to the doctor’s office were all about discussing pain. Out of this, 45 percent of them were undertaken at the office of the primary care physician. Of those surveyed, less than 1 percent visited a specialized pain physician for help.

Patients greatly underuse specialized pain physicians, mainly due to the relative newness of this specialty and the fact that not so many people are aware of it. The patients have been trained for treating pain conditions that are difficult by use of treatments that are more advanced.

Roles of pain doctors

  • Anesthesiologists: These doctors spend four years during their training on pain control and managing anesthesia in surgical patients. Ideally, most of the pain specialists are usually anesthesiologists and are able to offer many different types of pain treatments.
  • Neurologists: Their main focus is on treatment of nerve or neural aspects of pain. The treatments they offer basically include procedures and medications aimed at treating pain related to nerves.
  • Physical medicine & rehabilitation physicians: they tend to focus more in improving the day to day functioning of the patients and relieving pain through physical reconditioning and physical therapy.

New research has contributed greatly towards development of medications aimed at reducing depression and irritation caused by pain.