Featured Stories | Straight Talk About Pain
Clear communication with your physician is vital in receiving proper diagnosis and effective treatment for pain. People who are informed and prepared will have more productive medical visits—by relaying critical details and asking the right questions. Here are some simple steps you can take to communicate with your healthcare professional:
- Tell your doctor why you are there. At the beginning of the appointment, clearly describe your pain symptoms and any related symptoms, such as nausea, lack of appetite, and difficulty sleeping. In addition, tell your doctor if the pain interferes with activities—at home and/or work, or regarding leisure activities, and whether the pain has affected your mood.
- Show your doctor where it hurts. Be as specific as you can. Tell your doctor if it hurts in one particular spot or over a region of your body.
- Describe your pain with adjectives. Only you know how your pain feels, but you can better help your doctor understand by using words such as aching, throbbing, shooting, stabbing, gnawing, sharp, tender, burning, exhausting, penetrating, nagging, numb, and unbearable.
- Rate the severity of pain on a scale. Use a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain you can imagine. Rate your pain for a period of time before your doctor visit, noting for each timeframe when it’s worst and best. Some people keep a pain diary to help them record how they feel over a period of time.
- Provide information about when and how long your pain continues. Tell your doctor if your pain is continuous, periodic, or occasional. Recall the time of day when your pain is the worst and best, and if it is triggered or helped by particular activities—even simple things, like standing, walking, getting in/out of a car, etc.
- Devise a treatment plan with your doctor. Treatment varies. Your doctor may recommend treatment, like massage or yoga, and can also prescribe medications to help the pain. Every patient has unique needs, so adjusting the plan with your doctor is essential to pain management.
- Speak up. If prescribed medicine isn’t helping, talk with your doctor about different treatment options and adjust your pain management plan accordingly. Your symptoms are real, and you deserve to have your pain relieved.