The anesthesiologist is trained in administering drugs or other agents that cause insensitivity to pain. Most people recognize anesthesiologists as the ones who give a patient the appropriate levels and type of anesthesia, before and during surgery, to keep them sedated throughout the procedure. They also monitor vital signs -- heart rate, blood pressure, breathing patterns and body temperature -- during the operation.
Anesthesiologists administer local, regional and general anesthesia. Local is typically delivered via injection and numbs a specific, or local, area. Regional anesthesia (also known as nerve blocks or peripheral nerve block) eliminates pain to a larger part of the body during and after surgery. Regional offers faster recovery and has fewer side effects than general. General anesthesia usually involves a gas delivered through a mask or breathing tube, sometimes in combination with an intravenous drug, and it causes the patient to "sleep" during the surgery.
Outside of the surgical setting, anesthesiologists also offer relief for patients with chronic pain.