How Do I Choose the Best Pain Management Physician? Your Step by Step 2021 Guide

How Do I Choose the Best Pain Management Physician? | Spine Technology and Rehabilitation

Are you one of the 100 million Americans suffering from chronic pain, and wondering how to get relief? Spine Technology and Rehabilitation in Fort Wayne Indiana understands because we specialize in helping patients with complex, unsolved pain mysteries. Complex pain problems often require complex solutions.  That’s why you may need a physician with specialty training in pain management.

 This is a complete guide to choosing the best pain management physician for you. In this in-depth post you will learn:

What is a Pain Management Specialist?

A pain management specialist is defined as a physician who is trained in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of different types of pain (including chronic pain, acute pain, and cancer pain). A pain management specialist first determines the source of pain and then develops a systematic treatment plan to relieve, reduce, or manage pain. They help patients return to function in everyday activities (including work and sports) without surgery or heavy reliance on medication. 

So please check to ensure that the doctor is board certified in pain management and has had fellowship training specifically in pain management. A fellowship is additional specialized training after residency and medical school. Board certification is evidence that the doctor has been tested to demonstrate their competence.

What Kinds of Doctors Become Pain Specialists?

Four specialty fields of medicine qualify to take the pain management board certification. They include:

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation doctors or “Physiatrists” are medical physicians who focus on making proper diagnosis and optimally restoring patients capacity to function at home, work, community and sporting arenas.  Consequently, you may wish to seek the help of a Physiatrist or Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation doctor with specialty training in pain management if:


How Do I Get Referred to a Pain Specialist?

Your primary care physician may be able to refer you to a good pain management specialist within your insurance network -- although many pain management physicians accept patients without a referral from another physician. Word-of-mouth referrals (from family members or friends who know good pain management doctors) are common. They provide a level of comfort with the doctor, since a loved one or close acquaintance recommended them.

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Determining Who is the Right Pain Doctor for You

Online searches reveal numerous pain physicians, who seemingly offer similar services. How can you determine who is trustworthy and experienced? Here is a list of questions and information to help you find the best pain management physician in your area:

How does the doctor rate? Do an online survey to determine which pain specialists have high ratings and positive patient feedback. Also, with the number of people suffering with chronic pain, odds are you have friends and family members who will be able to give you a first-hand word-of-mouth recommendation.

How much time do they spend with you on your initial examination? It may take up to two hours to thoroughly perform an initial assessment on a patient with a complex pain disorder. Consequently, if they typically finish new patient consultations in 15 minutes to a half hour, you probably are going to be disappointed with their approach. In other words, you are probably seeking integrity, dedication and empathy versus Wham! -- Bam! --Thank you Ma’am!

Does the doctor take an inter-disciplinary approach? In other words:

How diverse are the doctors skills? The best pain management doctors use a multimodal approach, and have wide ranging skills in both diagnosing and treating a wide array of painful disorders. Their skill set should include:

Does the doctor have experience treating your particular condition? Some pain management physicians are specialized in a certain type of pain treatment. Others provide highly specialized treatments for a wide range of disorders; suggesting that you should research all the services. You could be wasting your time if the physician does not have adequate knowledge about your condition. For example, many pain management physicians have little experience treating craniofacial pain (like trigeminal neuralgia or temporomandibular joint dysfunction). Others do not have much to offer for patients suffering from pelvic pain or coccydynia (tailbone pain).

Is the doctor recognized by their peers as an expert? In other words, physicians who are extensively published in the world peer-review literature and have received endowed academic lectureships and awards are more likely to be on the cutting edge of their specialty. Arguably, they are less likely to be engaged in desperate and suspect practices, such as inappropriate prescribing of pain medications.

Does the doctor accept your insurance coverage? This seems pretty straightforward, but not all physician’s offices accept all insurance plans. Out of network plans may also vary. So do your homework on this part of it.

What Covid guidelines do they have in place? The office should be able to articulate their coronavirus plan, commensurate with the CDC guidelines including social distancing, mask wearing and sanitary practices.

Finally, when you call the physician’s office does the staff pass the “sniff test”?


Finding the optimal pain management specialist for your condition is like investigating an important purchase, except in this case the quality of your life literally depends on it. Do your homework. Get reviews from your loved ones, friends and online community and make sure you feel comfortable with them. Choosing the right pain management specialist will guard against long-term medication dependence or failed surgeries – undoubtedly, benefitting you in the long run. All the best!

Learn More About Dr. Fortin

Dr. Joseph Fortin, DO Dr. Joseph Fortin is the Medical Director at Spine Technology and Rehabilitation and a Clinical Professor at Indiana University School of Medicine.

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