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When to Refer to a Pain Specialist: A Guide for Patients and Referring Physicians

When to Refer to a Pain Specialist: A Guide for Patients and Referring Physicians

A workplace accident, a car crash, a sports injury, or a flare up of degenerative joint or spine pain — these are just a few of the countless causes of pain. In most cases, the pain subsides when the injury heals. But in many instances, the pain continues long after that and requires the expertise of a pain specialist. 

We call this chronic pain, and injury isn’t the only culprit. Arthritis, repetitive stress disorder, nerve pain, and pain after neck or back surgery, can all create lasting pain that resists first line conservative treatments. 

When you’ve reached the end of what you can do, or you’ve seen your primary doctor and need more specialized care, that’s where pain specialists come in, taking your treatment options to the next level.

Many patients and referring physicians in the Woodbridge and Livingston, New Jersey areas and beyond turn to Dr. Jay M. Shah at SamWell Institute for Pain Management when they need an expert for an opinion on spine or musculoskeletal pain-related problems. Double-board-certified in pain medicine and physical medicine and rehabilitation, Dr Shah is a leader in the field of interventional pain management. Here, he guides you through the classic signs that you may need his expertise.

When to self-refer to a pain specialist

Many people take a grin-and-bear-it approach to chronic pain, especially when they’ve been told there’s nothing that can be done to stop it. Dr. Shah meets with countless patients who feel hopeless and helpless, and he restores their hope and their health through targeted, safe, and evidence-based interventional pain-relieving procedures. Here are the signs you should consult with Dr. Shah:

If you’ve been told that there’s only one — or no — way to relieve your symptoms, and you’d like to explore innovative solutions with a double-board-certified pain specialist, call us right away. Dr. Shah believes that every type of pain has a solution, and he’s spent his entire career dedicated to treating the most complex cases.

And if you’ve tried first-line treatments and exhausted all other options, our 2nd Opinion Program offers you a thorough examination that identifies the source of your pain, even when others can’t find it, and we provide innovative solutions to help restore your quality of life.

When physicians should refer patients to a pain specialist

When the initial conservative care you prescribe as a primary doctor fails, such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and rest, a referral to a board-certified pain specialist can provide an accurate diagnosis and solutions for your patient’s chronic pain. 

Here, we hope to bridge the gap and help you feel more comfortable with our area of expertise so we can partner together to diagnose your patient’s problem, restore function, and decrease pain. Here are the indications you should refer your patient to Dr. Shah:


If you’ve identified nerve damage or neuropathy as the cause of your patient’s pain, we can help. Our interventional pain treatments, including joint injections, nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulation, rhizotomy, and epidural steroid injections can stop the pain quickly.

If you suspect neuropathy but need more conclusive testing, these treatments also serve as excellent diagnostic tools to pinpoint and confirm or rule out nerve damage.

Loss of function

Limited mobility goes hand-in-hand with chronic pain, but it doesn’t only affect the site of the injury or illness. Chronic pain often triggers a series of functional changes, such as:

These issues can exacerbate existing symptoms and produce secondary pain, further complicating the original condition. Dr. Shah specializes in stopping this cycle by addressing both the primary source of pain and each resulting problem triggered by chronic pain.

Facilitate rehabilitation

In some cases, all a patient needs is a modicum of relief so they can take advantage of physical therapy. But other interventional treatments may exceed your scope — that’s where we come in.

If you’ve already diagnosed the pain source and know your patient can improve with innovative interventional treatments, but you just need assistance managing that aspect, refer them to Dr. Shah.

Adding a pain specialist to your care team

Whether you’re a patient looking for pain relief or a physician wondering how a pain specialist can complement your care, we encourage you to contact us about our advanced technology and state-of-the-art treatment options that address even the most mysterious types of pain, including:

Call us at either location, or book an appointment online to learn more about how a pain specialist like Dr. Shah can help resolve chronic pain conditions. 

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