Pain Management Does Not Mean Treatment With Narcotics

By Dr. Winifred Bragg – December 2018

People often erroneously think of treatment by a pain management specialist as consisting of only opioids or commonly called narcotic ”pain killers.”  However, the practice of pain medicine or pain management is diagnosis driven just like other medical specialties. Just as one goes to a cardiologist for an evaluation of heart disease and receives treatment based on a unique diagnosis, a visit to a pain management specialist results in unique treatment because every patient with pain is also different. The discipline of pain medicine is concerned with the prevention, evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of painful disorders.

Pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. There are approximately 116 million Americans with chronic pain, defined as pain that has lasted more than three months and 25 million people with acute pain.

Like other doctors, the pain management specialist must examine each patient and create a treatment plan based on the patient’s symptoms, examination and other findings.  For example, the cardiologist must first examine you and make several determinations.  These include deciding whether your heart disease will respond to weight loss and exercise, whether you have high blood pressure and need medication to lower your blood pressure or whether your cholesterol is elevated or whether you have a blockage and need an interventional procedure or as a last resort, whether you might need to be referred to a cardiac surgeon for coronary bypass surgery.

All patients with heart disease do not take the same medications.  It depends upon the cause of the problem. Just as there are different treatment options available for heart disease, there are a vast number of treatment options available for spinal or orthopedic pain.

While patients may go to a pain management physician because they “hurt,” just as they go to a cardiologist because they all have heart problems, all pain does not respond to narcotics.  It is an unfortunate and common misconception that if patients go to the pain management doctor, they will be treated with narcotics.

Treatments for spinal or orthopedic pain vary just like treatments for heart disease vary.  It depends on what is the cause of your problem.

Opioids or commonly called narcotics is only one piece of the pie in treating people with pain.

It is inappropriate to assume that a referral to a pain management physician will result in a prescription for a narcotic medication.

With advances in pain management there are a number of treatment options and narcotics are not the treatment of choice for everyone who sees a pain management specialist.

Winifred Bragg, MD

Copyright © 2018 by Winifred Bragg, MD. All Rights Reserved.


More about our spine doctor
Our pain management center and spine doctor provides excellent care in the diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of spinal and orthopedic pain resulting from injuries and other painful conditions such as:
• Spinal Stenosis
• Degenerative Disc Disease
• Herniated Disc (Sciatica)
• Post-Laminectomy Syndrome (failed back syndrome)
• SI Joint Dysfunction
• Facet Syndrome
• Tennis/Golfer’s Elbow
• Myofascial Pain
• Osteoarthritis (hands, knees, hips, shoulder)
• Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
• Rotator Cuff Tear
• Rotator Cuff Tendonitis

For more than two decades, we’ve successfully served patients in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Hampton Roads. Our back doctor and her staff of physical therapists are widely known for treating all musculoskeletal problems from the neck to the foot. Knocking out back pain, chronic neck, shoulder pain, hip pain, knee pain and other health issues is why our patients say these great things about us.

If you have any questions, please contact us at 757-333-3360 or by clicking here. Together We Strive to Knockout Pain®