What Is a Pain Management Doctor?

Dec 21, 2023 | Pain Management

For those living with chronic pain, the road to relief often seems endless and discouraging. If there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s likely going to come from a medical specialist who’s been professionally trained to identify the true source of pain and provide targeted treatment — a pain management doctor. 

What is a pain management doctor? Are they real doctors? How are they different from other medical practitioners? And can they provide actual relief?

The Perils of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than three months and can persist for years in many cases — much longer than the usual healing time for an injury or illness. Unlike acute pain, which is a warning sign that something is wrong and needs immediate attention, chronic pain has the potential to become its own independent condition.

The most common effects of chronic pain include:

Persistent Pain

The pain can be continuous or come and go in flares. It can manifest in various ways, including throbbing, burning, aching, or sharp shooting sensations.

Negative Impact on Daily Functions

Chronic pain can interfere with everyday activities like work, sleep, socializing, and physical movement (even basic motions like standing, walking, or sitting).

Aggravated Emotional and Mental Health

Depression, anxiety, and fatigue are common companions of chronic pain due to the constant stress and challenges it presents.

What Is a Pain Management Doctor’s Role?

What is a pain management doctor or specialist? These medical specialists are physicians, CRNAs, nurse practitioners, and other licensed practitioners who are trained to diagnose and manage chronic pain. They have in-depth knowledge about the physiology of pain and are equipped to evaluate patients with complicated pain issues.

They understand how to conduct and interpret specialized tests for diagnosing painful conditions, and they know how to perform treatment procedures such as nerve blocks and radiofrequency ablations — therapies that can manage chronic pain without addictive medications.

Diagnosing chronic pain involves a thorough medical history evaluation, physical examination, and potentially, diagnostic tests such as MRIs or X-rays. The best pain management specialists take the time to really listen to their patients’ pain stories. They work hard to understand the underlying cause(s), the intensity of the pain, and the patient’s ability to self-manage their pain. 

Treatment Options for Pain Management

Treatment options for chronic pain are diverse, and a pain management doctor can help determine the best treatment plan for you. This may include a combination of medication management, physical therapy, psychological therapy, and interventional procedures like nerve blocks or injections.

While there’s no “cure” for chronic pain, pain management specialists use a variety of approaches to help manage it and improve each patient’s quality of life. These therapies include:


Main medications, like over-the-counter options, opioids, and nerve pain medications, can provide relief. Your care provider needs to manage these carefully.

Physical Therapy

Exercises and movement techniques can help reduce pain, improve flexibility, and strengthen muscles. While it often can take weeks or months, it can be a very effective treatment for most patients.

Psychological Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy supports patients with the emotional and mental aspects of their pain, helping them find ways to stay calm and focused when the pain won’t go away.

Alternative Therapies

Massage, hot needling, and mindfulness practices can offer complementary relief.

Minimally Invasive Procedures

Some more advanced techniques such as trigger point injections, nerve blocks, and radiofrequency ablations target the source of pain to provide more immediate relief.

A pain management specialist monitors your progress and adjusts your treatment plan as necessary. Keep in mind that the goal of these therapies is to alleviate pain as much as possible but also to improve the patient’s ability to do the activities they enjoy, get their work done, and be able to enjoy time with their friends and family.

HPM: The Rural Pain Management Specialist

For those in rural communities, finding a specialist like a pain management doctor can be a challenge. That’s where HPM comes in. Our medical practitioners are specially trained to diagnose and treat a long list of painful conditions. We operate a network of pain management clinics in small towns across the country, making it easier for residents of areas outside of large cities to find the help they need close to home.

What is a pain management doctor? They’re a lifeline to hope. Living with chronic pain can be an overwhelming and isolating experience, but with the help of a specialist, you can navigate this journey more confidently and find the relief you deserve.