You may have heard the term \u201cpain medicine\u201d and brushed it off as prescriptions and medicines. But it’s so much more.\nPain medicine is its own field of medicine, and it involves more than you might expect.\nContact the UPMC Pain Medicine program.\u00a0\nWhat Is Pain Medicine?\nAccording to Ajay Wasan, MD, vice chair, pain medicine in the Department of Anesthesiology at UPMC, pain medicine is its own specialty, and doctors who practice it have completed a pain medicine fellowship and are certified by the American Board of Pain Medicine.\nExpect your first visit with a pain specialist to involve an extensive evaluation of all possible causes of your pain. The doctor may recommend a variety of treatments to reduce your pain and improve your functioning that can include:\n\nNerve block. A nerve block is a medicine injected into your body to numb a group of nerves and, as a result, reduce pain.\nOral medicine. This can be divided into opioids and non-opioids. Opioid medicines, also known as narcotics, are typically used as a last resort. A doctor may first prescribe non-opioid medicines to help control pain.\nPhysical therapy. Physical therapy and exercises to strengthen targeted areas of your body can help to relieve pain. UPMC’s chronic pain management program offers physical therapy and occupational therapy clinics so that you\u2019ll receive the proper therapies to treat your chronic pain.\nPsychotherapy. UPMC’s Pain Medicine program also includes pain psychologists who can help you learn to cope with your pain and improve how you function with it.\n\nWhat Do Pain Specialists Treat?\nPain specialists can treat the full spectrum of pain disorders, but they most often treat chronic pain. Chronic pain is daily pain lasting at least three months that hasn’t been significantly reduced through other treatments.\nAt UPMC, pain specialists treat conditions that include:\n\nBack and neck pain\nCancer pain\nAbdominal pain\nPost-surgical pain\nPain due to nerve injuries\nArthritis pain\n\nWhen Should You See a Pain Specialist?\nThe majority of people who see pain specialists are referred by another doctor.\nA pain specialist can identify the cause of your pain and treat its symptoms. A pain medicine doctor also may consult with other specialists to determine if you are a good candidate for surgery or another procedure to correct an underlying condition, or if pain medicine is a better option.\nDr. Wasan says that getting early treatment for pain improves your chances of finding relief.\nWhat Kind of Results Can You Expect?\nFor chronic pain, treatment is not a quick fix.\n“It\u2019s a process that may involve several different types of treatment,\u201d says Dr. Wasan. \u201cOver a six-month period, patients typically experience a 30 to 50 percent improvement.\u201d\nDr. Wasan views the specialty of pain medicine as pain management. \u201cPeople suffering from chronic conditions may always have some pain, but specialty care can help them significantly reduce it and manage their pain to prevent it from getting worse.\u201d\nLearn more about the UPMC Pain Medicine program and start getting the treatment you need.