When you’re experiencing chronic pain, it’s often occurring in concert with depression and anger. Off-the-charts pain is challenging to manage, causing anger, and the culmination of emotions in association with being in pain day after day often leads to depression.

What happens when you try to articulate this pain and these feelings to your doctor? Can you do so clearly, or are you glossing over details? It leads to the question, as a chronic pain patient, did you downplay your pain level to your doctor?

The Importance of Effective Patient-Doctor Communication

When you’re glossing over details regarding your chronic pain, as well as difficulties managing it, this isn’t a productive conversation for either one of you.

  1. Your doctor isn’t receiving a clear understanding of what you’re going through or how to solve the problem.
  2. You’re not receiving adequate care because you’re not explaining the issues thoroughly.

For you, because you have dealt with the pain for so long, you may just rattle off symptoms without fully going into detail because you are just ‘over it’ and want a solution.

According to a study performed by Adam Swenson, Ph.D., a California State University Philosophy Professor, Northridge, and his colleagues in 2018,

“Doctors can harbor prejudices about how trustworthy a chronic pain patient is based on how he or she communicates. The research revealed that patients who appeared to be dramatic, depressed or who complained about their pain care were viewed by doctors as not trustworthy. By contrast, those who were stoic or upbeat were seen by doctors as trustworthy.”

Why Do Doctors Worry About Untruthfulness?

Throughout their careers, doctors will come across a broad range of patients who are truthful about what they’re experiencing as well as those who skirt the issue and even those who may exaggerate their pain to support an opioid addiction. Those who are less than forthright send red flags up because physicians worry about things such as opioid prescription drug abuse or other reckless behaviors.

According to an interview conducted by Health24 with Dr. Imraan Shaikh, doctors can spot a fake illness or ailment. Dr. Shaikh stated that some signs are more suspicious than others including over-exaggeration of symptoms, repeat offenders, and the illness not being difficult to fake.

Therefore, when doctors see these behaviors, it can be challenging for them to honestly know when a new patient is truthful with them regarding their chronic pain symptoms. You’ll find this is especially true when these patients are seeking relief through the use of opioid prescription medications.

Why Are Patients Less Than Candid About Their Chronic Pain Symptoms?

According to a study performed by JAMA Network Open during November of 2018 entitled, “Prevalence of and Factors Associated With Patient Nondisclosure of Medically Relevant Information to Clinicians,” between sixty and eighty percent of patients aren’t completely truthful when communicating with their doctors during some point of their relationship. It isn’t uncommon for anyone to underestimate the difficulties of a medical condition. However, the ultimate question is, why do patients not communicate clearly concerning their chronic pain symptoms?

Some reasons for this include:

  • Not having a clear understanding of their physician’s instructions.
  • Being in disagreement when their doctor makes a recommendation.
  • Failing to take or taking opioid prescription medication incorrectly.
  • Eating unhealthy or not exercising according to the doctor’s recommendation.
doctor helping man with chronic pain in neck

What Can Chronic Pain Patients Do to Solve Communication Issues?

When visiting your doctor, there are several ways you can be proactive regarding your health and the number one way is by communicating symptoms honestly. Begin by explaining when you began experiencing your issues with chronic pain, then move on to describe the exact areas where you’re suffering these symptoms. The conversation can then move on to explaining how the pain feels, as well as how that is taking an emotional toll on you.

You are your strongest advocate for seeking chronic pain relief. Therefore, if you need treatment and aren’t comfortable with opioid prescription medication, then ask about alternatives from clinics like Midsouth Pain Treatment Center. They have various locations throughout the southern United States. Each place treats a variety of pain areas.

What Else Can You Do?

Come to the Appointment Prepared:

In addition to having your insurance card and identification, you also should have a notebook to write down the following information:

  • What is your medical history? If you can answer this question, then you’re off to a good start. Be as specific as possible regarding this information.
  • You should also be able to answer questions about how long you’ve been in pain, as well as any limits the pain is placing on your daily living. Write down this information, as well as anything else that’s pertinent, to help you from becoming sidetracked during the conversation.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions about Your Chronic Pain:

During your visit, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Here are some examples of chronic pain questions you could ask during your appointment:

  • What kinds of testing will be necessary?
  • Do I need a referral for a specialist?
  • Will I need to use opioid prescription pain medications?
  • Are there alternative treatments we can discuss?
  • What are the benefits, risks, and side effects for these methods of treatment?

How Can You Receive the Help You Need?

Under some circumstances, you may feel like being honest with your physician may not yield the results you’re looking for regarding pain management. Some doctors immediately prescribe opioid prescription medications and, for those who aren’t comfortable taking those, you may be holding back how much pain you’re actually in.

If that’s the case, it may be optimal to look for alternative treatments from clinics like Midsouth Pain Treatment Center. Not only will you not have to worry about becoming dependent on an opioid treatment but you’ll also receive the chronic pain management you’re seeking.