People mean well when they sympathize with your pain. But only you truly understand what you’re experiencing. After all, pain isn’t merely a symptom, it’s also a condition with varying degrees of severity and different debilitating effects.
Nevertheless, managing your chronic pain is a collaborative effort between you and your doctors. By taking a closer look at your pain, describing it in detail, and asking a series of thoughtful questions, you can help your pain management team develop an effective treatment plan.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Pain management is a multidisciplinary science often involving different types of specialists, including a physiatrist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, and/or psychiatrist. These specialists often work together to coordinate care with your primary care physician, surgeon, oncologist, or other doctor.
Your doctor only “sees” your pain on a CT or MRI scan. However, you can help your doctor “feel” your pain by providing detailed information about it.
Before your doctor’s appointment, give some thought to how to describe your pain. Here are some questions to consider, that might be both helpful to you and to your pain management doctor:
- Where is my pain located?
- Does my pain stay in one place or radiate?
- Does anything specifically trigger my pain?
- Do I experience numbness, tingling, burning, stinging, or electric-like sensations?
- Is my pain constant, or does it come and go?
- How has pain impacted my quality of life?
- On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst pain imaginable, how do I rate my pain?
- What caused my pain to begin with?
- Did my pain start suddenly or gradually?
- How long have I been in pain?
- What am I currently doing to manage my pain?
- Is there anything I’m doing that’s reducing my pain?
- What pain medications have I taken in the past, and how did they work for me?
- Have I ever had an allergic reaction to pain medication? If so, what were the medications?
- Do I have concerns about taking medications to help manage pain and other symptoms?
- Are there other treatments for the cause of my pain besides medications?
- What other medical conditions do I have?
- What are my goals for managing my pain?
Taking notes based on these questions, or others, can help you and your doctor work towards the best possible outcome.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
Bring your notes and questions with you to your appointment. This will help you make the most of your time with your doctor, and it will ensure that you obtain the information you need to understand your diagnosis and treatment options.
Your list of questions for your pain management doctor should include:
- Do you know what’s causing my pain?
- Is testing necessary to confirm your diagnosis?
- Do I need to see a pain specialist?
- Can my pain be cured or simply managed?
- Does my pain have triggers I should avoid?
- What kinds of pain treatments may be an option for me?
- What are the risks, benefits, and side effects of these treatments?
- What treatment(s) do you recommend I pursue, and why?
- What level of pain relief should I expect from your recommended course of treatment?
- Are there any alternative therapies that I can explore?
- Will lifestyle modifications help reduce my pain?
By asking these simple but pertinent questions, you and your doctor can better focus on the cause and appropriate treatments for your chronic pain. That alone is half the battle in dealing effectively with your condition.
The pain management specialists at Balcones Pain Consultants in Austin, Texas not only offer therapy for pain relief and healing, they can also answer any questions you may have. Call (512) 834-4141 to discuss your condition and learn about our options for pain relief. We have locations in Austin, Cedar Park, and Market Falls, Texas.