“How do I find a pain doctor?”

It’s the question we hear the most. Whether it’s from someone first experiencing pain or someone looking for a specialist, many chronic pain sufferers are seeking the right physician for them.

Here’s advice on recognizing the need for a pain doctor, finding a pain management specialist and knowing what questions to ask:

Why seek a pain management specialist

Pain management specialists have special training in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating all types of pain, including acute pain, chronic pain and cancer pain. As the field of medicine learns more about the complexities of pain, it has become more important than ever to have physicians with specialized knowledge and skills to treat all pain conditions.

In addition, the wide variety of treatments available is constantly growing and changing. With an increasing number of new and complex drugs, techniques, and technologies becoming available every year, a pain management physician is uniquely trained to use this new knowledge safely and effectively to help his or her patients.

Finally, a pain management specialist plays an important role in coordinating additional care such as physical therapy, psychological therapy, and rehabilitation programs in order to offer patients a comprehensive treatment plan with a multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of their pain.

Five ways to find a pain management specialist

pain management specialist1. Ask your general practitioner for a pain management physician referral

One of the best ways to find a pain physician is to be referred by your primary care physician. Your local primary care physician probably knows you best and is also connected to a local physician’s network. So, he or she can make recommendations based on your individual needs and the doctors in your area.

Most pain physicians work closely with their patients’ primary care physicians to ensure good communication, which in turn helps provide the optimum treatment for their patients.

2. Talk to friends

Personal referrals often provide the best leads. Even if someone does not share your pain condition, they may know of someone who does. Ask questions to make sure the recommended physician is a good fit for you.

3. Consult pain advocacy organizations

Many pain advocacy organization websites offer physician directories as well as resources, programs, advocacy and support groups for all kinds of pain conditions. Here are a few organizations that may be helpful to you:

– American Chronic Pain Association
– US Pain Foundation
– Power of Pain Foundation

4. Contact a pain coach

If you know or work with a pain coach, like Take Courage Coaching, ask about a pain management specialist that might be right for you. Many pain management coaches work closely with physicians and may be able to provide referrals.

[Related – Is Pain Management Coaching Right for You?]

5. Use online resources

By searching online directories, you can find a pain management specialist near you. You can also find condition-specific groups, organizations, clinics and centers that can lead you to the right pain physician.

Here are some resources and directories:

– PainPathways pain resources
– US News & World Report directory of pain management specialists
– Healthgrades pain medicine directory

Questions to ask a potential pain management specialist

It’s important to find someone who has the training and experience to help you with your particular pain issue and with whom you feel a comfortable rapport. Here are some questions to ask:

– How were you trained and are you board certified in pain management?
– Do you have experience with my pain condition and what types of treatments do you offer?
– Do you only perform procedures or do you use a multidisciplinary approach to pain management?
– What types of treatments do you recommend aside from medications or opioids?
– What is your overall pain management philosophy?
– How can you be reached if questions or problems arise?

Once you find the right pain doctor, take the next step by reading Making the Most of Your Doctor Visit and Ten Techniques to Help Improve the Relationship with Your Doctor.

Finding a pain management specialist is a lot like making a big purchase, do your research, use your network and ask questions to make sure you feel comfortable with your decision. If you have suggestions for finding a pain physician, please comment below.