Well that is a good question. Pain management docs are largely former anesthesiologists that specialize in pain. This is a natural conversion for them given their anesthesia training. However, some pm docs are neurologists, orthopaedists, physiatrists or other specialties.
The best ones are well versed in management of pain using medications and interventional pain techniques (injections). The medication part is more complex than we realize because a substantial number of the medications used in pain treatment were not manufactured for that purpose. They have just been found to have other uses. A good pain doc is also technically competent in the evaluation for and performance of a multitude of injections/ procedures.
My one word of advice is to find a board certified pain physician. The board certification is tough for this specialty and while it is not the only thing you want it is a good start.
I Saw A Pain Management Doctor For A Year And A Half. He Was, And Still Is, An Anthesiaologist, But Has License In Pain Management. I Had Injections In My Back. I Wasn't Put To Sleep All The Way, But I Was In "lala" Land And Didn't Feel Anything. Some Say The Injections Help--some Say They Don't. I Hope Things Go Well!!
Once MDs finish medical school they are required to complete a residency. Depending on the speciality (surgery, anth, etc) residency can be anywhere from 3-6 years. Residency is very general training in the begining and becomes more specific in the end. For example year one is a rotation of all specilities, from OB to ER. Then the training is more specific to the area they have chossen. PM is a subspecialty, meaning following residency one must complete a fellowship in PM, then take seperate board and licensing exams in PM. If the PM doc is from an aneth background (which is generally felt to be the best background to come from for PM) then they have 2 certifications, aneth and PM although your doc may no longer practice in the or (general anth) he is still considered an aneth.
As far as what they do, they are largely seen as diagnoticians and managers of complex cases. They can manage narcotics, perform discograms, injections, as well as implant pain pumps and stimulators. They are trained on the whole body connection and will have more experince with neuro, chemical and emotional triggers of pain than your surgeon.
THe biggest thing to keep in mind is that this speciality is realtively new, therefore they approach pain very diffrently than classicly trained surgeons. My oppinion is that a good PM is invaluable.
ET - Gave you the answer to your questions in an excellent manner.
I wish you well and think a PM will help you manage your pain.
In my case she led me to the NS I currenly see and she has been very supportive to me,....her main goal is getting me to the most comfortable level of pain that she can.
I hope yours is able to do the same for you ~ I fully agree with PeachJam, an excellent one REALLY IS invaluable!
I think that it's good that you have been referred to a PM, and I don't want to discourage but like with all drs there is good and bad and the first may not meet your needs and don't feel bad, just look for another, over the past 6yrs I have gone through several and am getting ready to search for a new one,I have been to the ones that don't take any concern in my condition and just write scripts and send me on my way to ones that only want to do ESI injections ect and won't even write a script, so just know it may take a few to meet your needs, I hope the first works for you and you find the help and relief you need and deserve, just a word of warning.
I recently went to a PM doctor at a leading teaching hospital and they only thing he wanted to do were steroid injections. I don't want those so I'm looking for a new doctor. I waited 3 months to be "accepted" by this pain clinic and it was a joke!
Thanks to everyone for all the information.WOW you guys are the greatest It is great to be able to find out everyone's experiences. Since it is WC I gather they are the ones who approve of the treatment and the doctor. So will see how it goes. Leaf