08 Aug 2013

Chronic Pain: Why See a Pain Management Doctor?

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As a physician specializing in chronic pain and pain management, I deal exclusively with painful problems and pain treatments.  Just as you might consult a cardiologist for a heart problem, or a neurologist for a nerve problem, there are specialist doctors like me who have in-depth knowledge and experience in treating problems like chronic back pain, neck pain, and other pain syndromes.  Because chronic pain management is a complex problem that often requires specialist care, Pain Medicine has become a recognized medical specialty, and other doctors turn to me when chronic pain doesn’t get better, or when a patient needs a specialized treatment.

Proper Diagnosis:  It can be difficult to determine the cause of chronic pain.  For example, chronic back pain can be caused by problems in the bones of the spine, the discs that connect them, facet joints that are found at each level of the spine, the sacroiliac joint, compression of the spinal cord itself, irritation of the nerve roots that come off the spinal cord, problems in the muscles of the low back — just to name a few sources of low back pain.  Although mechanical strain is common, chronic back pain may be caused by nerve problems, autoimmune diseases, infections, or even (in rare cases) malignancy.  The right diagnosis is needed to put together the best treatment pain for each person’s back pain.  The same is true for other parts of the body: neck pain, headache, joint pain, etc.  If your pain isn’t getting better, it might be because the source hasn’t been identified yet.  As a specialist, I have much knowledge, clinical skill, and experience to make these tough diagnoses and get your pain management plan on track.

Detailed Treatment:  Chronic pain management is often more complicated than just taking a pill.  Even among medications, there are many kinds of drugs that work in different ways, and different medications are better for different kinds of pain.  It also takes a doctor to understand how other medical conditions can affect the best choice of medication for your personal needs.  Beyond medication, treatment of chronic pain often a comprehensive plan.  For example, if you have chronic back pain, our plan will go beyond medications to involve things like exercises, physical therapy, complementary treatments, and sometimes even other medical specialists.  Pain management doctors have the most training in tailoring these plans to the needs of each patient.

Advanced Interventional Therapies:  Many sources of chronic pain respond well to interventions that pinpoint the source of pain and deliver medication or other treatments directly to that source.  These procedures are quick and safe, but technically challenging.  Realtime medical imaging is often required for safety and to make sure that the right area is being treated.  These therapies are beyond the skills of most doctors, but I have completed formalized fellowship training in these techniques and have performed thousands of pain management procedures.  Although many pain doctors, including myself, perform these procedures with X-ray guidance (fluoroscopy), I also specialize in the use of ultrasound for some procedures, which allows me to see nerves that are invisible with an X-ray.  These are new techniques that are still not taught in many pain management fellowship programs, and I am pleased to be able to introduce them to Ventura County.  I also specialize in spinal cord stimulation, a very advanced and effective treatment for some kinds of chronic pain, and radiofrequency ablation, a long-lasting therapy for some kinds of chronic back pain and neck pain.

Photo credit: a.drian / Foter / CC BY-ND

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About Leo Lombardo, M.D.

Leo Lombardo, M.D. is a dual-board-certified pain physician and founder of Ventura Pain and Spine Physicians, a medical practice serving Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo, and all of Ventura County.

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