What Is a Doctor Who Specializes in Pain Management Called?

Pain is a universal experience we all face at some point. Whether it’s a headache that won’t go away, a chronic condition that affects our mobility, or pain after an injury, it can be debilitating and affect our quality of life. While painkillers can provide temporary relief, they aren’t always the answer. That’s where a pain management specialist comes in. But what is a doctor who specializes in pain management called?

There’s a whole field of medicine dedicated to managing pain, and the doctors who practice it have unique skills and qualifications. In this blog, we’ll explore the world of pain management and answer the burning question: what is a doctor who specializes in pain management called? 

So if you’re tired of living with pain and want to learn more about the experts who can help, keep reading!


What Is a Doctor Who Specializes in Pain Management Called?

A doctor specializing in pain management is called a pain management specialist or a pain medicine physician. These doctors have specialized training in diagnosing and treating different types of pain, including acute pain that results from an injury or surgery, as well as chronic pain that lasts for months or even years.

To become a pain management specialist, a doctor must complete medical school and a residency program in a related field, such as anesthesiology, neurology, or physical medicine and rehabilitation. After completing their residency, they then complete a fellowship in pain management, which typically takes an additional year or two.

During their fellowship training, pain management specialists learn about the various techniques and treatments they can use to manage pain, including medications, injections, physical therapy, and other interventions. They also know how to diagnose and treat the underlying causes of pain, such as nerve damage, arthritis, or spinal cord injuries. To learn more about these underlying causes, you might find resources from Mayo Clinic and WebMD useful.

Once they have completed their training, pain management specialists can work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, and private practices. They often work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as surgeons, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, to provide comprehensive care for patients with chronic pain.

In addition to treating patients, pain management specialists are also involved in research and education. They work to develop new treatments and techniques for managing pain, and they often teach medical students and residents about pain management and its importance in patient care.

Overall, pain management specialists play a critical role in helping patients manage pain and improve their quality of life. By providing personalized, comprehensive care, they help patients overcome the physical and emotional toll that chronic pain can have on their lives.

What Does a Pain Medicine Doctor Perform?

A pain medicine doctor, a pain management specialist, specializes in diagnosing, treating, and managing pain. Pain medicine doctors typically have training and expertise in various fields, including anesthesiology, neurology, psychiatry, physical medicine, and rehabilitation.


Here is a detailed overview of what a pain medicine doctor typically performs:

  • Evaluation and Diagnosis: Pain medicine doctors first evaluate a patient’s medical history, symptoms, and physical examination to diagnose the underlying cause of the pain. They may also order diagnostic tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans to confirm their diagnosis.
  • Treatment Planning: Once the underlying cause of the pain has been identified, the pain medicine doctor will work with the patient to develop an individualized treatment plan. It may include medications, physical therapy, injections, or other procedures, depending on the cause and severity of the pain.
  • Medication Management: Pain medicine doctors are experts in using medications to manage pain. They may prescribe opioid or non-opioid pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, or antidepressants. Pain medicine doctors work to balance the benefits of pain relief with the potential side effects and risks of medication use.
  • Injections and Procedures: Pain medicine doctors may perform a variety of injections and procedures to relieve pain. For example, they may administer epidural steroid injections for back pain, nerve blocks for headaches or joint pain, or radiofrequency ablation to alleviate chronic pain.
  • Physical Therapy: Pain medicine doctors often work closely with physical therapists to develop exercise and stretching programs to help patients manage pain and improve their range of motion.
  • Psychological Support: Chronic pain can take a toll on a patient’s mental health, and pain medicine doctors may provide counseling or refer patients to a psychologist or psychiatrist to help manage the emotional impact of chronic pain.
  • Palliative Care: Pain medicine doctors may also work with patients with terminal illnesses to provide palliative care, aiming to improve the patient’s quality of life by managing pain and other symptoms.

Pain medicine doctors are crucial in helping patients manage pain and improve their quality of life. They have specialized training and expertise in diagnosing and treating pain and work closely with patients to develop individualized treatment plans that address chronic pain’s physical and emotional aspects.

What Types of Conditions Do Pain Management Doctors Typically Treat?

Pain management doctors are medical professionals who specialize in treating various types of acute or chronic pain. Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists for more than three months or beyond the expected healing time. Pain management doctors often have expertise in several areas of medicine, including anesthesiology, neurology, psychiatry, and physical medicine and rehabilitation. They may work in various settings, such as hospitals, clinics, or private practices.

Here are some of the conditions that pain management doctors typically treat:

  • Back and Neck Pain: This is among patients’ most common complaints to pain management doctors. Back or neck pain can result from spinal stenosis, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, and osteoarthritis.
  • Nerve Pain: Nerve pain, also known as neuropathic pain, can result from various conditions, including shingles, diabetes, and nerve damage caused by injury or surgery.
  • Headaches and Migraines: Pain management doctors may treat headaches and migraines using medications, injections, or other procedures.
  • Joint Pain: Pain management doctors may treat joint pain from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout.
  • Cancer Pain: Pain management doctors may work with cancer patients to manage pain resulting from the disease or its treatment.
  • Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and tenderness. Pain management doctors may prescribe medications and other treatments to alleviate the pain associated with this condition.
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS): CRPS is a chronic condition causing severe pain in the arms, legs, hands, or feet. Pain management doctors may treat this condition with medication, physical therapy, and nerve blocks.
  • Postoperative Pain: Pain management doctors may work with patients experiencing pain after surgery to manage their pain and improve their recovery.


How To Become a Pain Management Doctor

Becoming a pain management doctor requires a significant amount of education and training. Pain management doctors typically have a background in anesthesiology, neurology, psychiatry, or physical medicine and rehabilitation. Here is a detailed overview of the steps required to become a pain management doctor:

  • Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree: The first step to becoming a pain management doctor is to obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Most pain management doctors have a degree in a science-related field such as biology, chemistry, or biochemistry.
  • Attend Medical School: Aspiring pain management doctors must attend medical school after completing a bachelor’s degree. Medical school typically takes four years and includes classroom and clinical training.
  • Complete a Residency Program: After graduating from medical school, aspiring pain management doctors must complete a residency program in anesthesiology, neurology, psychiatry, or physical medicine and rehabilitation. Residency programs typically last three to four years and include additional clinical training.
  • Obtain a Medical License: To practice medicine in the United States, all doctors must obtain a medical license from the state where they plan to practice. To get a medical appointment, doctors must pass a series of exams and meet other requirements set by the state’s medical board.
  • Complete a Fellowship Program: After completing a residency program, aspiring pain management doctors must complete a fellowship program in pain management. Fellowship programs typically last one to two years and provide additional training in diagnosing and treating pain.
  • Obtain Board Certification: Pain management doctors may obtain board certification from the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) after completing a fellowship program. Board certification is not required to practice as a pain management doctor, but it demonstrates a doctor’s expertise and commitment to the field.
  • Maintain Continuing Education: Pain management doctors must stay up-to-date with the latest advances in pain management by completing continuing education courses and attending conferences and seminars.

Overall, becoming a pain management doctor requires a significant amount of education and training. Aspiring pain management doctors must complete a bachelor’s degree, attend medical school, complete a residency program, obtain a medical license, complete a fellowship program, obtain board certification, and maintain continuing education.


Pain management doctors are crucial in helping patients manage pain and improve their quality of life. There is a doctor specializing in muscles and nerves and a doctor for pain management.

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