What Kind of Doctor is a Pain Specialist?

“Pain Medicine Specialists are doctors who are specially trained, qualified & revalidated so that they can offer integrated, expert assessment & management of pain using their own unique knowledge & skill set, usually within the context of a multidisciplinary team” [1]. To that end, they recognise the importance of a multidisciplinary approach

Where Do Pain Specialists Work?

Although the majority of Pain Specialists are based in a hospital, a percentage of them work in other healthcare settings including GP and private practices. In some instances, an in-demand Pain Specialist can spread out their time consulting in a GP practice, a private practice, and a hospital.

What Type of Training Does a Pain Specialist Have to Achieve?

The usual pathway to becoming a Pain Specialist, is by the doctor undergoing an initial specialisation in anaesthesia. “The vast majority of Pain Medicine Specialists will have undertaken Pain Medicine training as a part of the Fellowship of the Royal College of Anaesthetists (FRCA) and the Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) in Anaesthesia award by the General Medical Council” [1]. Moreover, most Pain Specialists “demonstrate their continuing development of high level standards by joining the Fellowship or Membership of the Faculty of Pain Medicine of the Royal College of Anaesthetists (FFPMRCA or MFPMRCA)” [1]. – And so these are the qualifications to look out for when you are considering booking a consultation with a Pain Specialist.

So What Type of Pain Do Pain Specialists Treat?

• Acute pain (pain that becomes prevalent when the tissue is damaged & repairing itself)
• Chronic pain (a continual pain which does not cease after healing, or is the consequence of on-going damage
• Cancer pain which is linked to any pain that is experienced by cancer sufferers when it is generated by the cancer itself, or linked to its treatment [1].

What Pain Specialists Do When They Manage Their Patients

General doctors who have undergone Pain Medicine training, conduct all, or some of the following:

• Access the patient in a very comprehensive manner. (This includes: physical & psychological issues, functional limitations, & the social & occupational consequences of the pain)
• Conduct a physical exam
• Review previous medical investigations & order new ones
• Formulate a personalised pain management plan
• Communicate with the patients’ carers & healthcare professionals
• Make any necessary referrals to other healthcare professionals
• Prescribe medication & other interventional procedures
• Refer the patient to a physical or psychological specialist [1].


[1]. Faculty of Pain Medicine (2021). “What is a Pain Medicine doctor?”