Living with Chronic Pain
6 Tips for Accompanying a Loved One With Chronic Pain to a Medical Appointment
When a loved one is dealing with chronic pain, you can provide support by accompanying them to medical appointments. This includes assisting them with transportation, taking notes during the appointment, helping to remember questions and concerns, etc.
6 tips to help a loved one with chronic pain by accompanying them to a medical appointment include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Ask your loved one how you can help. Your loved one may need specific assistance for certain situations. For example, it may be easier to be dropped off and picked up at the door instead of walking from the parking lot. If your loved one has a list of questions to ask, they may want you to write down the answers, so that they can continue conversing with the health care professional.
- Prepare to be actively involved. If your loved one is comfortable with you being in the examination room during the appointment, there are several ways to be helpful. When they are in pain or taking pain medication, it may be difficult for them to process and remember information received from the health care professional. This may include medication schedules, test results, future appointments, or specific stretches or exercises. Listening carefully, asking questions as they arise, and taking clear notes are beneficial.
- Remember, the primary conversation should be between the medical professional and the patient. When a health care professional asks a question, your loved one should be given the opportunity to answer first. You should only provide additional information when needed. If you become engaged in a direct conversation with the medical professional, your loved one should be involved in the discussion, instead of being excluded.
- Leave the room if appropriate. Respect your loved one’s privacy during more sensitive examinations or discussions, and excuse yourself from the room. This will make them more comfortable with you attending their medical appointments. You can return to the waiting room and reenter the appointment when required.
- Accept advice on ways to help. For example, a physical therapist may show you how to apply kinesiology tape in order to help reduce pain. A physician or nurse may demonstrate appropriate ways to help your loved one with chronic pain get in or out of bed or a car. It is critical to learn how to provide care without injuring yourself.
- Remain sensitive to drug screenings. If treatment for chronic pain involves controlled substances, such as opioids, your loved one may complete a drug screening or sign an opioid agreement during the appointment. This does not mean that they have done anything wrong or are addicted to pain medication. Remain sensitive to the fact that this is simply a standard way to ensure the safe use of controlled substances.
Additional source: Integrative Pain Specialists