"Most people don't even know there are such things as pain specialists," says Dr. Heather Nath of Lakeshore Bone & Joint Institute, Chesterton, but they've been around for about 20 years.
She is board-certified in both anesthesiology and pain medicine, with a dozen years practice in the latter.
At Lakeshore, she
works closely with workers' compensation insurers, adjustors and occupational health providers to treat primarily workplace injuries.
"If you would have told me that my office would be between a Walmart and a cornfield, I wouldn't have believed you," Nath says, who spent most of her career at Rush Medical Center in Chicago and has lectured at Harvard.
"But it's nice to be able to provide that kind of care here - you don't have to go to Chicago."
"The people that come to me are those who generally fail the first round of treatment," says Nath
That sometimes leads to frustration, financial stress and fear of reinjury, all of which need to be dealt with.
It's up to her
to discover why the first treatment didn't work.
The individual may have been seen initially onsite at an occupational health center at a steel mill or by an orthopedic surgeon.
"We work in a coordinated effort to get the proper diagnosis and treatment," she
"As a pain specialist, I treat people with all different types of pain," Nath
says, "but I treat a lot of back injuries, that's the most common.
And the most common procedure she
performs to alleviate back pain it is an epidural steroid injection that is done under X-ray guidance.
"I saw hundreds of injured workers last year and most get better," she
The treatments are sometimes combined with physical therapy or other measures to achieve success.
"The best approach is prevention," she
adds, but that doesn't always get considered.