As pain management specialist Dr. Harvey Finkelstein can personally attest, the field of professional pain management is an excellently rewarding one for any young doctor to specialize in. Having to live with chronic pain can have a serious and negative impact on the quality of an individual’s life, making it difficult to carry out even the simplest of daily activities. For these pain sufferers, pain management doctors represent a ray of hope that they can find a way to deal with their pain and keep it from interrupting their day-to-day life as much as possible.
When choosing this career path for themselves, there are several things that medical students need to know and to consider. Below, Dr. Finkelstein addresses some of these important details about pain management specialization.
The Different Types of Pain Specialists
According to the online medical information database WebMD, a pain management specialist is a doctor who is an expert at diagnosing and then treating the underlying cause of a patient’s pain. These include doctors from a number of different disciplines, including the following:
- Neurosurgeons – These are doctors who perform surgery on a patient’s nervous system.
- Neurologists – These are doctors who diagnose and treat different diseases of the nervous system.
- Orthopedic Surgeons – These are doctors who perform surgery on areas of a patient’s musculoskeletal system such as the spinal column.
- Physiatrists – These are doctors who specialize in physical medicine, here defined as a branch of medicine dealing with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease by physical means such as exercise, massage, and manipulation.
- Anesthesiologists – These are doctors who specialize in the use of anesthetics and anesthesia. As Dr. Harvey Finkelstein adds, anesthesiologists often lead teams of other doctors and specialists who work together to manage a patient’s pain. This team may include physician assistants, nurse practitioners, physical rehabilitation therapists, orthopedists and more.
How Pain is Treated
Modern medical research has led to the development of many innovative and effective new treatment options for those patients suffering from chronic or acute pain. “Many of these techniques began as ways to make events like childbirth or surgery less painful,” explains Dr. Finkelstein. “Now doctors are using tweaked versions of these techniques to help relieve other pain symptoms in patients.”
Thanks to these innovations, most types of pain that a patient may experience are now treatable through a variety of methods. These methods include the following examples:
- Electrical stimulation
- Nerve blocks
- Physical therapy
- Psychological support
- And more
The Qualities of an Effective Pain Specialist
With the proper training and skill set, says Dr. Harvey Finkelstein, any medical student can become an effective pain management specialist. In addition to their training, though, the best specialists also have the following qualities:
- Good listening skills
- A positive and solid reputation in the medical community
- Up-to-date knowledge on pain and its treatments
- A trustworthy and honest demeanor
- The willingness to encourage their patients to ask questions about their conditions and treatments
- The ability to allow patients to disagree with them
By possessing these qualities, says Dr. Harvey Finkelstein, a pain management specialist is more likely to attract patients looking for the best pain management care that they can find.
What Pain Specialists Can Expect to Do
According to WebMD, most pain specialists will find themselves working closely with the primary care doctor of their patient in order to accurately assess the cause of their pain and to find the most appropriate option for treatment. In most cases, the pain management specialist will be performing a complete physical exam on their patient.
On top of this, says WebMD, pain management doctors should also collect sufficient data from the patients themselves. To do this, pain doctors will need to ask their patients to describe the pain that they are feeling to them in detail and to explain where it hurts the most. Doctors should also determine how long the pain has been bothering the patient and what actions, if any, serve to alleviate or worsen the pain.
The Rewards of Pain Specialization
For those doctors and medical students who do choose pain management as their specialization of choice, Dr. Finkelstein reports that the rewards are well worth it. “For me, anyway, it was a natural choice,” he explains. “My grandmother suffered from chronic pain, and it significantly impacted her daily life. I wanted to find a way to help people like her take their lives back, for their own sake and for the sake of their loved ones.”
This is exactly what pain management doctors do, easing the otherwise constant pain of daily life for their patients. In this way, says Dr. Harvey Finkelstein, pain management specialists are some of the most appreciated and respected doctors in the community amongst their patients.
Dr. Finkelstein is a specialist in pain management who realizes that living with chronic pain can drastically impact a person’s life, which is why he focuses on providing each of his patients with personalized, top quality medical care and attention. He runs his own private practice out of New York, Pain Care of Long Island, which he opened in 2000 and where patients can receive a wide variety of services to address their pain management needs. Dr. Harvey Finkelstein also keeps abreast of the latest treatment options and innovations in his field, and in 2009 he was awarded the distinguished designation of Fellow of Interventional Pain Practice by the World Institute of Pain.