Internal Medicine – When to See a Specialist

Sometimes when you have problems you need to see a specialist. Often times your regular physician can help you with most of your illnesses, but every now and then a problem stumps them and you might have to go see someone commonly called a “Doctor’s Doctor.” If you need to see one of these many specialists you might hear that you are visiting a Doctor of Internal Medicine.

Internal medicine is a wide spread medical specialty that deals with diagnosis, treatment and prevention of adult diseases. Occasionally you will find that some of these specialists have doctors that are available to pediatric patients but these are harder to find than adult specialists. These internist can act as a primary care physician but they are not considered to be general practitioners because they specialize in adult medicine, while a general practitioner might also see children.

You don’t have to have bleeding or damage to see a Doctor of internal medicine. The term probably alludes to the fact that there is a problem inside the body but that doesn’t mean you’ll always have to go under the knife. If you are seeing a Rheumatologist then you are seeing one of these specialized doctors and guess what you might not have to be operated on. For other disorders such as Cardiological, Neurological, and Oncological you might have to have surgery at some point. Just because you have a disease or disorder going on inside your body doesn’t mean that the doctor has to open you up.

This specialty covers so many more areas that you might not realize. IF you have problems with your hormones you’ll have to go see an Endocrinologist. If you have blood issues such as hemophilia, anemia, or sickle cell you will need to be referred to a Hematologist. Do you have problems breathing such as asthma, COPD or chronic bronchitis? If so then you will need to go see a Pulmonologist. There are many more types of physicians that are considered to be one of these types of doctors.

You don’t have to wait until you have a disease or disorder to see one of these doctors. It also works on preventing these problems. If your family history contains one or more of these problems such as heart problems, lung problems, or digestive problems your regular doctor might send you to see a specialist to ensure that everything is being done to prevent you from having these problems.Internal medicine is a wide field that allows you to get the specialized care you need.

Who Is An Internal Medicine Doctor?

An internal medicine doctor is also referred to as an internist. Internists are sometimes confused with interns but this is an incorrect assumption. An intern is a doctor-in-training who is learning under a mentor but an internal medicine doc is one who is considered an expert in his or her field. They are superbly trained in diagnosing, treating and preventing diseases in adults. They combine treatment of patients with research. They are in fact so knowledgeable that many other health care practitioners come to them for advice.

Many physicians are internists and their patients may not even be aware of this. Some examples are MD specialists who focus on cardiology, gerontology, Nephrology, oncology, pulmonology, rheumatology, sports injuries, and infectious diseases. In order to become a specialist in one of these fields, a doctor must take another series of training and education courses that may add years to his or her schooling.

Those who focus on cardiac issues are practitioners of the heart and all items connected. Blood pressure problems, vein or arterial maladies such as those that are clogged from high fat diets or stressful lifestyles, heart attack victims and stroke sufferers may all be seen by cardiologists.

The population is aging to a greater degree. Increased longevity is due to lifestyle, advances in modern medicine and more baby boomers coming up into their golden years. With the increase in elderly patients, internists who focus on geriatrics are in high demand. With proper medical care, these elders can enjoy life far into their golden years.

Oncology is the study of cancer. Any body part can become afflicted with cancerous tumors and growths. These practitioners are skilled at developing proper treatment plans. These plans can consist of chemotherapy, radiation or surgical intervention. More patients are becoming survivors with new healthcare expertise.

Pulmonologists take care of lungs and breathing systems. Chronic asthma, bronchitis and more can be tended to by these docs. Nephrologists address the human kidneys which is an important component of health, indeed. Without proper kidney function, toxins can invade the body and shut it down in toxicity.

Rheumatoid arthritis is on the rise and can affect many individuals in the form of painful, swollen joints. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have a lot of sufferers who seek help. Medication, physical therapy and surgery can alleviate some discomfort and return mobility.

When athletes become injured, it often takes a sports medicine specialist to heal them. It also takes an expert in this arena to point out how to avoid another similar injury in the future. Sports can be advantageous to health but accidents and injuries happen.

With the widespread development of new germs, many infectious diseases can get out of hand without an arsenal of medication to knock them out. It may take an internist who concentrates on super-germs to combat them effectively.

If a patient has a problem with their heart, lungs, kidneys, arthritis, infectious disease, athletic injury or is getting advanced in age, he or she may want to make an appointment with an internal medicine doctor. These specialists can help in a multitude of ways.

Why a Pain Management Physician Can Help You More Than an Internal Medicine Physician?

A pain management physician has a broad range of experience to diagnose and treat all types of pain. With a multidisciplinary approach to the anatomy of the body, and a specialized approach that can come from various specialties of physicians, this type of doctor also has tools for more specific diagnoses and the treatment of pain than an internal medicine physician. An internist may be able to identify where the pain is felt but not necessarily where the source of the pain is. In addition, he or she may only be able to prescribe prescription medication and physical therapy, which may not be addressing the issue of the pain itself. With pain affecting more than 50 million individuals a year, with a tremendous cost to our country in health care costs, lost productivity of workers and the emotional stress it puts on the patient and family, pain management is a specialty that’s growth is welcomed.

Pain Management MD Curriculum

A physician trained in pain management will have completed four years of undergraduate study and four years of medical school studying anatomy and physiology and pharmacology with hands-on experience. The graduate will have a doctorate degree in anesthesiology, physical rehabilitation or psychiatry and neurology and have spent one to two years residency with a possible several years of fellowship training in a specific area of pain management.

Pain management covers a broad range of specialties including internal medicine, orthopedic surgery, psychiatry, neurology, neurological surgery and physiatry, as all of these fields are pertinent in the whole approach treatment of pain. Once a physician has dedicated himself to the practice of pain medicine, there are supporting organizations such as the American Academy of Pain Management and statewide organizations that provide funding for research and assistance with news and technology.

Types of Pain

A pain management physician covers a broad area of study, with every part of the body subject to pain. Chronic pain is persistent pain that lasts longer than an acute injury – such as a muscle strain, infection or surgical site – would normally last. There is also pain that occurs as a result of a medical condition such as cancer, arthritis, scoliosis, osteoporosis or degenerative disc disease, as well as pain that seems to have no evidence of previous injury or medical condition. The pain can come in the form of headaches, back pain, and referred pain in which the injury affects nerves that affect other parts of the body such as the arms in a neck condition or the legs in the case of a lower back nerve issue.

Diagnosis Equipment

Correct diagnosis is critical in managing pain. For all types of pain, x-rays, CAT scans and MRI are effective tools to look at the initial complaint of pain and something that an internal medicine physician could order. At a pain management physician’s office, specialized equipment, as well as the knowledge to operate it and assess the results is there to treat it properly. For back pain, discography is a method to determine whether back pain is caused by invertebral discs, and a myleogram examines the nerves leaving the spinal cord. Thermography, measuring the heat of the body, and MR Neurography that can visualize nerves with MRI are newer technologies.

When an individual is suffering from chronic pain, while an internal medicine physician may be able to refer a patient to a pain management physician, receiving diagnosis and treatment from a specialist will offer the most accurate treatment.

Internal Medicine Certification

Doctors that are considered internal medicine physicians are especially trained to care for adults. There are various categories in which they may further specialize such as cardiologists, sports medicine doctors, infectious disease specialists, geriatrics experts, allergists and more. To have one of these titles, a physician must study another one to three years past medical school. These health providers are renowned for their abilities to diagnose, treat and prevent diseases and even offer consultations to other health care practitioners.

When a physician has received their board certification, it is a sign that they are highly qualified in their field as well as committed to their practice. Board Certification is not a requirement but is a widely recognized sign of expertise around the globe. The American Board of Internal Medicine is often referred to by their initials ABIM. ABIM has been around for seven decades and has come to be equated with excellence. There are currently over 200,000 internal medicine docs who have chosen to become certified.

Requirements for this dignified title include having the proper schooling, completion of residency and fellowship, stellar performance reviews, licensure that is unrestricted and passing an exam. Once a health professional becomes certified, he or she needs to keep it up. This entails ongoing training and continual commitment to high levels of care with their patients.

In addition to specialties, an internal medicine doc would be likely to:

– Be a primary care provider for individuals in their late teens into old age. There are some who choose adolescence as a specialty and restrict their practice to patients aged fifteen to nineteen.

– Be called upon to tend to patients with undefined symptoms. Some examples of symptoms which may be undefined include back pain, stomach ailments, chronic cough, chest pain or breathing difficulties. Since these practitioners specialize in diagnostics, they are often able to come up with answers to what is wrong.

– Perform screenings for prevention of disease. Some screenings may include CT scans, mammography, colonoscopy, PAP tests and more.

– Care for patients who are hospitalized.

– Collaborate with other physicians in order to care for complex chronic health problems in individuals.

– These professionals are proficient at treating individuals with multiple system diseases.

These health care providers are also referred to by the term “internists.” This is not the same as an intern who is still training to be an M.D. but rather a practitioner with advanced knowledge of the human body and its workings. The nickname “a doctor’s doctor” has been given to these providers because they are able to come to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment aid of their fellow physicians.

While many of these internists work in hospitals due to their expertise with severe health issues, others practice in offices as primary care providers. Many patients still prefer a generalist or family practitioner so that every member of the family can see the same professional, but more and more people are selecting a health professional to meet their family’s health needs. Selecting an internist that is board certified is one more stamp of approval for quality.

When To Look For An Internal Medicine Specialist

The term “internal medicine” is sometimes misinterpreted as a physician who is an intern. This is not the case; these medical professionals specialize in adult diseases. They deal with some of the most difficult cases where multiple symptoms, illnesses or diseases exist simultaneously. Their training was targeted toward the management and treatment of many different diseases at once. This is a difficult job and these professionals should never be mistaken with a new graduate from medical school who hasn’t completed an internship – which in medicine is called a residency.

For residents of North Dakota who are experiencing a medical problem or set of symptoms, the best action is to go to a family doctor. However, they may not always be able to treat a problem. The physician may order several different tests. While these may be uncomfortable and irritating, it is important to follow through. At some point, it may seem that too many tests are being performed and there is still no concrete diagnosis. If this is the case, it is time to see an internal medicine specialist in North Dakota. They may charge more than an average doctor, but their services and knowledge are worth it. For those who hold North Dakota health insurance, it is also important to see if the provider covers internal medicine specialists – if so, check to see if there is a specific list of specialists by name that are permissible to see.

Keep in mind that these highly-trained post-graduate medical professionals may have specific specialty areas. When at all possible, identify the type of specialty the potential problem may fall under. For example, if the problem happened after a surgery, seek an internal medicine specialist who deals specifically with post-surgery. There are also ones who work with obstetrics or pediatrics, as well as a few other areas. In the state of North Dakota, there are not plentiful amounts of these valuable professionals in every town. It may be necessary to locate the nearest large town or city and find one there. If traveling is uncomfortable, difficult or even impossible, call the current insurance provider to see if there is assistance available for ambulance transfer. Some hospitals and medical centers have transportation and pick-up services. Those who are on a tight budget should ensure their insurance provider covers this before booking a transfer.

To find the best specialist, consult the internet. Find a list of names of physicians who have this title, then write down the ones who are accessible by distance travel or convenience. Research each doctor’s name and read any consumer reviews about their work. This will help in deciding which is the best.