According to a report released by the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, around 100 million adult Americans suffer from chronic pain. This problem is concerning from many points of view: it puts substantial pressure on the country’s healthcare costs and policymaking, it puts a lot of pressure on pain specialists and doctors who have to treat acute and chronic pain and, ultimately, it causes a tremendous emotional burden on patients and their families.
An Institute of Medicine report from 2011, called Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research, showed that pain was a significant public health problem that costed society at least $560-$635 billion annually. These numbers grew as years went by; and it seems that now pain affects Americans more than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.
In this framework, it is necessary to understand how we can rely on our pain specialists. We need more and more of them, as their salaries and job perspectives have a direct impact on the proper care provided to patients.
Pain Specialists Salaries and Career Perspectives
For patients dealing with pain every day, the idea of living a normal, fulfilling existence may seem out of reach. However, seeing the appropriate doctor specialized in the type of pain you are suffering from is the first step to make to regain your quality of life.
1. Pain Medicine Specialists
These specialists undergo years of training in order to evaluate, diagnose and treat different types of pain – either related to an underlying cause, such as nerve damage, surgery, injury, diabetes etc., or non-related to a known cause.
Recent statistics show that in 2018, the median annual physician with specialization in pain medicine salary is $329,510.
Pain medicine specialists have to work closely together with other pain doctors to make sure the patient receives the proper care. As one can easily imagine, this is a medical job with great perspectives. If you want to find a pain specialist, you can search the directory of the American Academy of Pain Medicine.
Many people see a chiropractor for back pain. A chiropractor is a pain specialist who works with pain that stems from different types of conditions, such as: injuries, accidents and even chronic headaches.
Chiropractors specialize in the management of the neuromusculoskeletal system. They do not, however, prescribe medicine as pain specialists. Instead, they use hands-on techniques to relieve pain from the back, neck, nerves, ligaments, tendons, muscles and so on.
According to recent statistics, the chiropractor salary, on an annual average, is around $81,210. What is interesting is the fact that the job growth rate estimate is a 17 percent increase by 2024. As more and more patients have to deal with pain, chiropractors will have their hands full in the immediate future. If you are looking for a chiropractor, visit the American Chiropractic Association’s website to find a specialist in your area.
Physical therapists undergo years of medical training to diagnose and treat pain related to nerves, muscles and bones, and also to help people improve their movement. They deal with post-operation recovery, neck and back pain, pain related to injuries, sports, work accidents, concussions, pinched nerves and more. They also deal with chronic pain and illnesses, playing an extremely important role in the diagnosing, treatment and prevention process of pain management.
According to a 2017 report, the median annual salary of physical therapists was $86,850. The estimated job growth of this profession is 28 percent by 2026, one of the fastest job growths among all occupations. The job growth correlates with the increasing prevalence of conditions, such as diabetes and obesity or injuries in the active population.
The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation is a good resource for you to find such a pain specialist if you need treatment.
4. Orthopedic Surgeons
Orthopedic surgeons earn special degrees in medicine from accredited schools, and must undergo years of training and education. They earn around $465,000 a year. These specialists treat injuries and diseases related to bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves.
When they do not perform surgeries, orthopedic surgeons can offer pain treatments, or refer patients to other colleagues, such as chiropractors and physical therapists. Based on the diagnosis, the orthopedic surgeon may recommend surgery or a treatment plan that can include medication or combined therapies.
The job growth estimate by 2026 is around 13 percent, and correlates with the increased prevalence of chronic pain, injuries, accidents, spinal disorders, sports injuries, trauma and fractures.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons is a good resource to find an orthopedic specialist.
When looking at pain doctors’ earnings and job perspectives, things look promising: they are in high demand and will be in even higher demand as the baby boomers grow in age. Pain is and will be a public health challenge for all the professionals involved in healthcare on all levels. One interesting issue to research in this context is the correlation between the prevalence of pain in the population, the salaries and job satisfaction of pain doctors and the quality of healthcare offered to these patients.