Pinching, shooting, burning, and stabbing sensations in your lower back prevent you from doing the things that you love. It may even stop you from working and earning a paycheck. Lower back pain can impact your sleep and ability to exercise, which directly affects your immune system, mental health, and even your relationships.
While 80% of adults have suffered from lower back pain, you can choose not to be another statistic. The path to spine and pain management starts with selecting the best doctor for your specific lower back pain issues. Just like no two people’s pains are the same, no two spine and pain management doctors will provide you with the same results.
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Advice From Doctor Brandon Claflin of Oklahoma
Dr. Brandon Claflin in Oklahoma is a leading spine and pain management expert. He is a board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation physician with subspecialty board certification in Pain Medicine. Additionally, Dr. Claflin is a fellowship-trained spine and pain management specialist who focuses on conservative treatments such as physical therapy, medications, and spinal injections to diagnose and treat pain. Please take a moment to learn more about his practice at OKspinepain.com.
Below, Dr. Claflin of Oklahoma outlined 5 critical questions to ask a lower back pain doctor that you are considering. Just as you would shop around for the best car or home, it’s also in your best interest to comparatively shop for a doctor. Lower back pain prevents you from doing activities that you enjoy, takes over your thoughts, and impacts every part of your day and night. Therefore, finding the best doctor is your key to losing the pain and gaining the life you want.
Dr. Brandon Claflin’s 5 Questions
What certifications and education do you have?
First, you want to ensure they hyper-specialize in spine and back pain management. The doctor you choose to work with should have specific certifications and an educational background that is directly related to back pain. For example, I am a board-certified physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, with subspecialty board certification in Pain Medicine.
What training and experience do you have that is most related to my back pain issue?
Real-world training is equally important. You want to seek a doctor who has helped countless people like you to successfully release lower back pain that doesn’t return. It is reasonable to ask for case studies and examples of people with similar challenges. Part of their training and experience should be practicing specific techniques and treatments that could heal your pain. The doctor you choose should also be a recognized member of a pain society in your state or area. That way, they can learn the latest information and approaches to managing pain. Lastly, please pay close attention to how they answer your questions, because this can be an indication of their bedside manner.
Currently, I only help people with spine and pain management. My practice is a full-time pain clinic with several other board-certified specialists who attend to patients in a compassionate low-stress environment.
During my residency training in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Baylor University Medical Center, I focused on treating a variety of musculoskeletal and sports-related pain conditions, chronic pain, interventional pain techniques, and conservative treatments of spine pain. Part of the treatment I provided for my patients included electromyography medicine (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS). In addition, I continued my training in interventional pain medicine and completed my pain medicine fellowship through the Department of Anesthesia at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. During that time, I became proficient in diagnosing and treating pain using fluoroscopically guided spine injections, various interventional pain procedures, spinal cord stimulation, and peripheral nerve blocks.
How will you determine the cause of my pain?
This question will show you if the doctor does a one-size-fits-all treatment plan or tailors it to your specific medical history, lifestyle, and unique body needs. You want to find a doctor who acts as a detective – probing for clues and answers to what is causing your pain. They should ask you dozens of lifestyle questions and review your medical history. X-rays, MRTs, and lab work can also provide an accurate assessment of what is happening inside your body, as well as evaluate for other illnesses.
They should also mention closely collaborating with neurologists, psychologists, orthopedic and spine surgeons/neurosurgeons, physiatrists, oncologists, psychiatrists, physical/occupational therapists, and chiropractors to determine the cause of pain and provide optimal solutions for each unique patient, as I do.
What specialized equipment, medicine, and technology can you provide?
This question will clue you into the type of technology, medicine, and treatments the doctor can offer. They should be able to provide a wide range of physical therapy, medication, and the latest pain management treatments. At my full-time pain clinic, Oklahoma Interventional Spine & Pain, we offer cutting-edge technology, such as medial branch block injections and radiofrequency ablation.
What is your backup plan if the original plan does not work?
It is critical to have plans A, B, C, etc. Like anything else in life, sometimes the first plan doesn’t work as you had hoped. Therefore, find out how the doctor will reevaluate to find a better plan to move you forward in your healing journey. This could include doing more diagnostic tests and consulting other specialists.
Finding a pain expert doctor, such as Dr. Brandon Claflin in Oklahoma, is critical to putting yourself on a path to managing your pain—so that your pain doesn’t manage you. Start by asking your primary care doctor for referrals. You can also Google “spine and back pain management doctors near me.” When reviewing a doctor online, note their education, experience, certifications, and the type of services they offer. This can help you determine which doctors will be best to interview in person or over the phone. Remember to take this article with you during the interview as a reference point.
You can feel better and release your pain. It just may take finding the right doctor to make it happen.