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Do You Need a Referral to See a Pain Management Doctor?

Date: October 1, 2022

The experience of pain is multifaceted and unique to each person due to the complexity of the human nervous system. Each patient’s pain diagnosis and treatment must therefore be approached uniquely.

Whether through a disease, an injury, or a surgical procedure, suffering from pain is something everyone must face at some point in their lives. While some people experience temporary discomfort, many others acquire long-term chronic pain.

Managing chronic pain can be challenging; if you’re ready to explore your treatment choices beyond what your family doctor can offer, a pain management specialist should be your first stop.

You may wonder whether you will need a referral to pain management to visit a pain management doctor or clinic or not. There is where you will receive a pain-management and wellness strategy that fits into your daily routine and makes you feel better.

Do you need a referral to see a pain management doctor?

Medical examination of a foot: referral to pain management

The question of whether you need a referral to see a pain management doctor is a frequent one. Most pain management clinics and doctors often require someone to be referred for insurance purposes.

To explain this, it is mostly up to your insurance provider and whether you have a PPO or HMO. This details whether it is an emergency or whether you are seeing a provider in your network.

A preferred provider organization (PPO) plan allows flexibility to see providers both in and out of the network, and when getting referrals, specialist referrals aren’t required, and you don’t need a primary care doctor. However, for a health maintenance organization (HMO) plan, the network coverage is in-network only except for medical emergencies, and you may require a referral from a primary care doctor to see a specialist.

All of these considerations mostly call for a referral to make things easier. Being referred by your current physician to a pain management doctor has its advantages, which will later be discussed in this article.

There are some situations that may make visiting a pain management doctor difficult simply due to the ties you have to your current doctor. It may be hard to tell your doctor that you need to see a pain management doctor.

There are situations that, however, call for this step, as we will discuss below:

How to tell if you need a referral to a pain management doctor

There are a number of situations where a referral is needed. A recommendation from your primary care physician is the most reliable approach to seeing a pain management expert.

The consultation will be more fruitful and focused on the patient and their pain condition if the evaluating pain management physician has access to all relevant history and data. The treating doctor better describes a patient’s history for progress monitoring and the interactions with the prescribed medication.

You can always visit a pain management specialist and any other specialist by documenting your condition. This includes details such as

  1. When the pain began
  2. How the pain is triggered or when the pain starts or ends
  3. Medication that helped for a short time before the pain started
  4. Medication that helped for a long time
  5. Medication that caused more pain or allergies

While over-the-counter pain relievers prescribed by your family doctor may provide temporary relief, they do not address the underlying cause of your discomfort. If your pain persists despite the use of over-the-counter medications prescribed by your primary care physician and non-pharmaceutical treatments like massage and exercise (which are unlikely to be covered by insurance), it may be time to request a referral to a pain specialist.

The ability to endure pain varies from person to person as for some, the slightest pain can cause extreme distress, while for others, the tolerance may be strong, and they can go without medical care for quite some time. You alone are the best judge of when your pain has reached an unbearable level.

Talk to your healthcare physician about getting referred to a specialist in pain management. There is a good chance that your primary care physician will be able to recommend you to a pain management expert if you are already seeing a specialist for spinal issues, neurological pain, cancer, or any number of other ailments.

With chronic pain conditions, it is conceivable for the pain to arise for no clear reason at all. Since there is a wide variety of pain conditions, your primary care physician may refer you to a pain specialist for chronic or recurring pain management.

Pain management doctors are trained experts who can assess, diagnose, and treat pain and help those in pain live a pain-free life. As a result, they can effectively evaluate and care for their patients by staying abreast of the most recent developments in their field.

When designing a treatment plan, the doctor may give advice, including physical therapy or rehabilitation. Specialists in pain management are trained to interpret the results of these tests, diagnose their patients’ illnesses, and then offer them medication or other pain relief options.

How to find the right pain specialist

An image showing a doctor with a stethoscope

Management of rehabilitation patients calls for a team of medical professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and physiotherapists, to work together on a functional improvement program.

Anesthesiologists and physiatrists are the typical healthcare providers who do interventional procedures such as neural blockade, neural ablation, and implanted devices. These procedures of pain management are available at Atlas Pain Specialists.

Medical management can be used as part of a rehabilitation plan to help with pain and functionality. Medication, usually opioids, is used in medical management, and the recommended dose may be too high for someone who isn’t trained to recognize the signs of pain.

Medication management is to lessen discomfort to the point that it no longer interferes with the patient’s ability to do daily activities, much like the goals of rehabilitation methods. Medical management is a common part of the work of interventional specialists, who are also commonly called on to aid in instances involving palliative care, rehabilitation, and other forms of treatment that require medical intervention.

Even though all of these can be a part of palliative care, the primary goal is to increase a patient’s quality of life at the end of life rather than to restore their ability to perform daily tasks.

Since intractable pain can be caused by a wide range of pathologic changes in the neurological system, a wide range of pain specialists has emerged, each specializing in a different facet of the condition or method of therapy. All of these methods can be roughly categorized as follows:

  • Operations Involving Interference
  • Education and Administration in Rehab
  • Management of Medications
  • Hospice Care

Types of available pain management treatments

There is a wide variety of treatments available since there are so many different sources of pain. Depending on the frequency and severity of the pain, options range from physical therapy to implanted medical devices like spinal cord stimulators.

While there are some treatments that may be more appropriate for a given illness, ultimately, it is up to the patient to decide what they feel is the best course of action. There are two main groups for the various therapy options.

  1. Interventional also called non-surgical, non-invasive, and non-intrusive pain management, is a treatment plan where neither surgery nor injectable medications are used. Medication therapy, behavioral change, and physical therapy are common tenets of such regimens.
  2. Non-Interventional pain management involves the use of drugs, injections, surgery, nerve blocks, nerve stimulation, and implantable drug delivery systems to treat pain. These are muscle-level treatments that can be applied locally.

How to get a referral to a pain doctor

Referring patients to pain clinics is still a bit of a mystery to many internists and other primary care doctors, much alone specialists. Few medical students or residents spend significant time in a pain clinic. Thus, their familiarity with the environment is limited.

Family doctors often become like family friends, seeing patients of all ages. So, it might be challenging to ask your doctor for a referral to a specialist when the time comes.

In some circumstances, doctors are reluctant to make referrals. Inform your doctor that you want to find out why the problem persists so that you can fix it permanently.

When over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers fail to alleviate your suffering, it may be time to contact a specialist. You can develop a tolerance to pain medication and have your pain more frequently without an effective way to reduce it.

It’s important to be open with your primary care physician about how much pain you’re still experiencing. Be honest about the success of the treatment and whether you need to explore other alternative treatment plans.

Get the doctor’s opinion on the treatments you’ve already tried and see if he has any further ideas. If all other possibilities have been exhausted, he should consult a professional.

Clearly, doctors know, or at least have a good guess as to which organ system is responsible for many different kinds of pain and/or discomfort. They may choose to treat the issue themselves or refer the patient to a specialist of their choosing.

Do you need a referral to visit Atlas Pain Specialists?

Most insurance plans are accepted, and referrals are usually not required. All you need is a reservation or to give us a call for same-day booking and appointment and to learn more.

Outside of All Access and HMO plans, referrals are not required, and if you have any questions or concerns about the billing process with your insurance provider, you can also give us a call.

Our specialists will sit down with you, evaluate you thoroughly, and then design a comprehensive plan for managing your pain over time. Every pain management strategy is carried out closely with a nurse practitioner or physician assistant.

Your referring doctor, if any, will be informed of your pain management plan. Self-referrals are welcomed and accepted according to the terms, or you can call our office if your doctor would rather refer you; we’ll make sure they have everything they need to make the referral.

Because of the need for careful consideration, not every patient will be suitable for long-term opiate treatment. We conduct wide diagnoses apart from the medical history to determine any underlying conditions, and the type of treatment plan you will receive is custom to your needs.

It is ultimately up to Atlas Pain Specialists to decide, on a case-by-case basis, if we will assume responsibility for prescribing prohibited drugs previously prescribed by another provider. To do this, your doctors and pharmacies may request access to your medical information and conduct tests on your urine for drugs.

Patients are continuously monitored for signs of addiction, abuse, or diversion to ensure their safety. A controlled substance prescription is not typically issued on the first visit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a referral for pain management mean?

Whether you’re experiencing sudden back pain or have been dealing with persistent discomfort, a pain specialist can help. Your general physician can help manage your pain through medication and other remedies, but a pain management specialist can further help you live a pain-free life through extensive treatment plans tailored to your needs.

The majority of the time, your pain specialist will collaborate with the other medical team members to develop a holistic approach to healing. Joint pain, cancer pain, and arthritis pain are the most frequent chronic pain treatment by pain experts.

How often do I need a referral to a pain specialist?

You may only require one referral if you visit a qualified professional that will help diagnose, treat and manage your pain. However, the frequency of your visits to this specialist will be determined by your specific treatment plan.

Appointments may be as brief as is required to issue prescription refills if that’s all you need. As with any medical procedure, your doctor must determine the appropriate frequency of follow-up visits for any other treatments you may be receiving.

The frequency of your specialist appointments may also be affected by your medical history and the use of any other medications you may be taking.

Where can I get treatment for my pain?

Some medical professionals go too slowly and are too cautious; they don’t try hard enough to exhaust all possible treatments. We attempt to aid patients by being proactive and assertive as you can get proactive treatment plans with us.

With Atlas Pain Specialists, we can choose from a wide variety of treatment methods in an effort to speed up the healing process, and we perform a number of interventions at the outset. All this is done in your comfort and to improve it.

Call us now or book a same-day appointment for pain management.

About Dr. Sean Ormond
Dr. Sean Ormond in black medical uniform and black fog background
Dr. Sean Ormond is dual board-certified in Anesthesiology and Interventional Pain Management. He completed his anesthesia residency at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio where he served as Chief Resident, followed by an interventional pain management fellowship at Rush University in Chicago, IL. Following fellowship, Dr. Ormond moved to Phoenix and has been practicing in the Valley for a few years before deciding to start his own practice.