Managing Chronic Pain

Pain management comes in many different forms and is offered through many different health care providers. In fact, the number of specialists that offer “pain management” treatment can be initially overwhelming to the individual seeking care.


Pain Management with a Pain Specialist

Pain management specialists typically have at least one year of fellowship training in pain management after residency following medical school. Anesthesiology, neurology, and physical medicine and rehabilitation (physiatry) fellowships are among the most common areas of study.

See What Is a Pain Management Specialist?

A pain management specialist will likely recommend a range of treatment options for people with chronic pain. This can include:

  • Traditional treatments, such as medication and injections
  • Pain psychology, such as biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Complementary health approaches, such as acupuncture and chiropractic

See Pain Management Specialists’ Role in Patient Care

A pain specialist may act as a persons’ pain management “administrator” or as another member of the care team.

See Choosing and Meeting with a Pain Management Specialist

Designating an Administrator for Pain Treatment

Often, it is best to have one doctor be the “administrator” of pain treatment options. This can help keep treatment:

  • Organized
  • Goal-focused

It can also help the patient make informed decisions about treatments that often carry risks. Some treatments carry risks that people may not fully understand. Some examples include:

  • The long-term use of opioids
  • Infection or bleeding associated with epidural injections

See Opioids’ Potential Risks and Side Effects

Although the physician recommending these treatments might provide risks and benefits, speaking with the “administrator” physician may provide additional information as well as a second opinion.


Many people choose a primary care physician as the “administrator,” although it can be any health care provider. The “administrator” physician will often suggest other specialist, which might include pain management doctors, chiropractic therapists, and pain psychologists, among others.

Because chronic pain treatment commonly involves multiple specialists, it is generally most effective when the care team is well-coordinated. Often, the “administrator” will have the entire care team provide their treatment plans, patient response to treatment, and medication suggestions.

See Non-opioid and Topical Medications for Chronic Pain

It is ultimately up to the individual to decide how he or she will manage chronic pain; however, being able to discuss options, and responses to various treatments with a central and trusted source is always ideal.