24 Jan 5 Key Ways Pain Medicine Differs from Primary Care
Pain medicine is a recognized specialty practiced by doctors who are fully trained and licensed physicians, just like your GP or family doctor. However, what we do on a day-to-day basis differs somewhat. GPs and family doctors often refer chronic pain patients to us for that very reason.
It might help you to know the differences between pain medicine and primary care. Understanding pain medicine may be the motivation you need to ask for a referral. In any case, always remember that you are the best advocate for your health.
- Pain Medicine Is Very Specific
The first significant difference between pain medicine and primary care is specificity. Here at Lone Star, we do not see patients suffering from the common cold, allergies, warts, bunions, etc. We specialize in chronic and acute pain. We specialize in getting to the root causes of pain and treating them.
On the other hand, pain is just one of the many complaints a GP or family doctor deals with. In a primary care setting, a doctor can treat everything from skin rashes to muscle sprains. Primary care physicians are the first line of defense, so to speak.
- Pain Medicine Digs Deeper
Treating pain in a primary care setting is usually left to either over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications. Primary care doctors do not have the time or resources to dig deeply in search of a cause. That is understandable; they have a lot on their plates.
In pain medicine, it’s our job to dig deeply. It is our responsibility to run a full range of diagnostic tests to figure out exactly what is going on. We keep digging until we find a root cause. Once that cause is identified, we can start working with patients on the best course of treatment.
- The Tendency Toward Multiple Treatments
If you have experience with pain medicine, you are likely familiar with the idea of implementing multiple treatments simultaneously. For example, an arthritis patient might be encouraged to undergo PRP injections combined with physical therapy and OTC medications, when necessary. Combining all three treatments gives the patient a better chance of experiencing maximum pain relief.
Combining multiple treatments requires pain doctors to work with other members of a patient’s healthcare team. That may mean collaborating with the primary care physician. It could mean working with a physical therapist, a rehab specialist, or even a sports medicine specialist.
- A Larger Selection of Treatments
Perhaps the most notable difference between pain medicine and primary care is the sheer number of treatment options available to pain medicine doctors. Using our clinic as an example, we offer everything from sympathetic nerve blocks to spinal cord stimulation. Our options extend far beyond medications and surgeries.
This is not to say that prescribing drugs and recommending surgical procedures is bad. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is simply to say that there are lots of other treatments that are not usually recommended by primary care physicians.
- The Management Philosophy
Finally, most cases of chronic pain are lifelong. Helping patients live full and productive lives is more about pain management than finding a cure. Pain medicine doctors can do a better job here because it is our specialty. Primary care physicians can give their best effort, but pain management is not something they tend to focus on.
You are a good candidate for pain medicine if your primary care physician or family doctor has been unsuccessful in treating you. If you would like to know more and you live in the Weatherford, TX area, we hope you’ll consider visiting Lone Star Pain Medicine.