A neighbor stopped me recently to ask if I had any ideas about how his wife could have less pain. He said she had multiple health problems and seemed to be getting worse and worse. They had seen several doctors who kept trying different medications, but these caused multiple side effects and made the woman's problems much worse. I asked if they had ever seen an anesthesiologist, who did nothing but pain management. "No", he said, "I didn't know there were such doctors." I called my son, who is an anesthesiologist, and he gave me names of two doctors who did pain management. I gave them to my neighbor and a week or so later I saw the man again. He couldn't say thank you enough because the doctor they saw had been wondeful, took a complete history, spent an hour with them and changed both his life and his wife's. I thought how sad that none of their previous doctors had bothered to made a similar referral. How awful for a patient to suffer when treatment is available. Of course, there are doctors who think they know all the answers and refuse to make a referral to another doctor for pain management. I have seen this happen with tragic results.
Children and teens with disabilites or post-surgery may also need special pain management. I have always had a problem with orthopedists who use codeine for kids after orthopedic surgery. The children usually get nauseated and constipated. There are other ways to help the pain and perhaps this is where a pain management doctor is needed. Families, parents, and patients may have to insist on a pain management referral.