When To See a Doctor for Pain Management

Pain is common for some. But how do you know when it is time to go see a pain management doctor?

“Many cases that I end up treating, the pain starts in the back,” says Jacob Shipley, MD, a UPMC pain management specialist. “But it involves inflammation or compression of the nerves that radiates into the lower extremities.”

According to Dr. Shipley, if your pain is limiting your daily life, then you may want to see a pain management doctor.

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Pain Management Services at UPMC

UPMC provides consults, diagnoses, and care for both acute and chronic conditions such as:

  • Arthritis.
  • Complex regional pain syndrome.
  • Degenerative disc disease.
  • Failed back syndrome.
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis.
  • Sacroiliitis.

Minimally invasive services include:

  • Epidural pain medicine.
  • Spinal cord stimulation using a mild electrical current to block pain.
  • Radiofrequency ablation, which uses radio waves to block nerve signals from the affected area.

Individualized Treatment

Dr. Shipley credits the multimodal approach as the best way to help those who are struggling with pain. This means it is not only medication, physical therapy, or injections that help with pain symptoms. Instead, there is a combination of treatment options to help get patients back on track.

Dr. Shipley meets with patients and gives them injections at the UPMC Outpatient Center on Pellis Road in Greensburg, among other locations. But it is important to note that the injections themselves have a lifespan.

“There’s no injection that will take the pain away forever,” says Dr. Shipley. “What we aim to do is to start by coordinating with — usually UPMC Centers for Rehab Services — to provide a more functional approach at treating the pain, such as starting an at-home exercise program aimed at the problem areas. The goal is that the injection lasts long enough that the combined efforts of the injection and physical therapy, and that by the time that our injection wears off, what the patient has done has helped fix the underlying issue to the point where they may not need the injection again.”

Another treatment option includes spinal cord stimulation, which is an implant that interrupts the pain signals in the back. Spinal cord stimulation is an implantable electrode with a battery that blocks pain from a particular region of the body. This treatment is an option if the patient experiences medication side effects or if they develop worsening pain despite injections and therapy.

Help Is Here at UPMC

If you are not sure where to start on your pain medicine journey, our doctors at UPMC are here to help.

“It is not uncommon for patients that come to our practice that don’t have any real type of direction,” says Dr. Shipley.

“We are able to compile all the workups that they have done to that point and give them direction. In other health systems, you may not have access to that coordinated type of care. We point our patients in the right direction and make sure their problem is being identified and addressed.”

Pain Management Care, Closer to Home

Patients can see Dr. Shipley at the UPMC Outpatient Center on Pellis Road in Greensburg and at UPMC Somerset Pain Management. For more information on pain medicine or to schedule an appointment at the UPMC Outpatient Center, call 724-853-4559. To schedule an appointment at UPMC Somerset Pain Management, call 814-443-5800.

About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.