Talking to your primary care doctor or pain management specialist about chronic pain can be a difficult conversation especially if you lack precise details for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Doctors do not have a pain evaluator that works similar to a blood pressure monitor to know the intensity of your pain. Unless you tell your provider specifically about the location, intensity, and timing of your pain, they might have difficulty finding the root of your problem. It is especially true if you are struggling with chronic pain, which is pain that persists for more than three months.
In the USA, approximately 116 million people live with chronic pain. Statistics indicate chronic back pain is the primary source of disability globally. However, although pain is the main reason why patients visit health care facilities, many primary health providers do not know adequately how to address complaints of pain, nor how to blunt its impact on patients.
When talking about pain with your doctor, you should always give detailed information. For instance, if you say you have deep shooting leg pain that gets worse during the day and that it prevents you from performing your activities well, you will already be giving in-depth information to your doctor.
Since chronic pain sometimes activates emotions such as anger, sadness, and anxiety, these emotions can interfere with you receiving a comprehensive consultation with your doctor for the best treatment plan. They might recommend you see a pain management specialist to help treat your pain.
How a Pain Management Specialist Identifies Your Chronic Pain
Your pain management specialist will need to know the following details about your symptoms to best diagnose and determine the right treatment plan for you:
- How long you have been in pain?
- What is believed to be the initial cause of your pain?
- What treatments you have undergone so far?
Your doctor is verifying whether the pain is chronic — meaning it starts slowly and stays for an extended period before reducing gradually — or paroxysmal — meaning it starts abruptly and occasionally, then goes just as suddenly. Different conditions can cause these different types of pain.
While letting your pain management specialist know if you are constantly in pain or occasionally in pain is a good start, the more details you can provide the better chance your doctor can determine the root cause of your pain. A more in-depth description of your pain might be, "I always have a throbbing pain in this spot, but it gets more severe when I wake up and this level of pain lasts about an hour." When your answers are precise and detailed, your doctor can rule out or identify several conditions associated with your symptoms.
Does The Chronic Pain Affect Your Daily Activities?
Your pain management specialist will also need to know the answers to the following questions to learn more about how your chronic pain affects your daily life:
- Are there some activities or duties you can’t accomplish because of the chronic pain?
- Are you unable to perform duties at your workplace or not do usual chores around the house because of the pain?
- Have you canceled important appointments or withdrawn from your favorite hobbies due to chronic pain?
- Does the pain affect your sex life?
All these questions will help your doctor form a comprehensive understanding of any disorder associated with your chronic pain. Any time you have chronic pain that interferes with your daily activities, you should be open and talk to your doctor about it.
How Effective Are Your Pain Management Medications?
Think about all drugs and treatment methods you have tried to treat the pain. Your pain management specialist will ask you if you’ve taken or are currently taking anything to help manage your chronic pain. By properly informing your doctor what you have used, even if you think it was a mistake to use such treatment options, your doctor will have a greater ability to determine what might work best for you. Ensure you also include any relevant herbs, vitamins, and supplements you might have used before since they help to give a further diagnosis.
Explain to your pain management specialist about the effectiveness of each medication, including details such as the rate or extent of pain relief. Also, remember to mention alternative ways you have tried such as massage, acupuncture, chiropractic therapy or any other complementary methods.
Additionally, sharing a detailed medical history and past treatments with your doctor is a significant step in identifying your chronic pain.
How Would You Describe the Chronic Pain?
Your pain management specialist will want to know what kind of pain you are experiencing such as burning, throbbing, stabbing or sharp pains. For instance, you can explain that your pain “feels like a rope is being tightened around my neck when I turn it to the left.” Your doctor will understand how to classify the pain and give a better diagnosis.
When discussing the intensity of the pain, consider how you would rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. Use 10 to represent the most severe pain you have ever felt, and 1 as a minor pain or discomfort. However, you don’t want to understate or exaggerate your pain level as this can lead to a false diagnosis and unsuitable treatment plan.
Next Steps: Reaching Out to Your Local Pain Management Specialist
If you are experiencing any pain, especially chronic pain, talk to your doctor. The caring, pain management specialists at MidSouth Pain Treatment Center are here to help you identify and treat your pain.
With convenient locations in Germantown, Cordova, Jackson (TN), Southaven, Oxford, and Tupelo, there is a pain management specialist near you! Contact us today at (866) 707-1942 to start treating your chronic pain.