Which Health Professional Should I See?

If you are experiencing pain or have an injury, there are many options for health professionals to treat your painful condition. So who should you see first? Going to your family doctor is usually the best first step, and he/she will direct you with initial treatments and referrals. However, sometimes you can go straight to another health professional or ask your doctor for a referral to someone on this list. I selected these few to emphasize because many patients have asked me about these options.

1. Physical Therapist: joint pain, new injury, old injury, chronic pain, weakness, balance/walking issues, shoulder pain, elbow pain, neck pain, mid back pain, low back pain, sciatica, pelvic pain, hip pain, knee pain, ankle/foot issues, gross motor delays in babies or children, muscle pain/strain, neurological injury (such as a stroke) 
2. Occupational Therapist: pain/injury of any part of the arm/hand, difficulty with fine motor tasks, hand/arm weakness, difficulty performing usual daily tasks, neurological injury (such as a stroke), developmental delay in babies or children
3. Chiropractor: new episode of spine pain, car accident, whiplash, chronic back pain, some areas of joint pain, alignment issues, low back/pelvis pain, sciatica
4. Massage Therapist: fibromyalgia, chronic pain, tight muscles, stress
MD Specialists for some common painful conditions:
1. Neurologist: nerve problems (numbness, tingling), neuropathies, neurological conditions (stroke, TIA, MS), unexplained weakness
2. Pain Management: chronic pain, need for injections (such as Cortisone), back pain
3. Orthopedist: specific for each joint. For example, find a shoulder specialist/surgeon if you have shoulder pain.
4. Neurosurgeon: new or chronic spine pain that may radiate away from the spine into the arm(s) or leg(s)
Always remember that you can choose your own health professional just like you select your pharmacy. Even if your doctor refers you to a specific therapist or specialist, you can request a referral to someone of your choice.

Published by lizbnavarr@gmail.com

I am a Physical Therapist and Ergonomics Consultant, based out of Columbia, SC. My passion is to write about and speak about pain/injury prevention. I started Pain Talks as a consulting business in 2018.

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