Living with Chronic Pain
Tips for a Successful Health Care Visit
Effectively communicating the symptoms and severity of chronic pain to a doctor can be a difficult task. Medical appointments are often limited in time and most people feel some degree of stress or pressure in a medical setting. In order to have the best doctor visit possible, it is important to prepare ahead of time.
Most health care providers are on a schedule. They may seem rushed or in a hurry, which can be frustrating to a person who has waited a long time for relief. Use this time with the doctor as efficiently as possible. Be sure to use regularly log pain, for example using the PainScale App, to clearly communicate symptoms and severity of pain and any other conditions. Sharing this information will help the doctor reach a proper diagnosis and decide what treatment is best.
Also, tell the health care provider if any depression or anxiety is experienced in addition to pain. Emotional health plays a significant role in pain management and can directly affect the treatment plan. A multidisciplinary pain management plan can be created that includes psychological help. Attitude (both negative and positive) plays a significant role in how pain is perceived in the brain. Cultivating a positive outlook may help manage pain and reduce its severity.
Try these eight communication tips:
- Explain where and when the pain is felt.
- Use descriptive words, such as sharp, aching or dull, to explain the pain.
- Describe how the pain affects daily life.
- Rate pain on a scale of one to ten.
- Communicate details about what triggers the pain.
- Share previous and current treatments and how well it worked.
- Report any feelings of depression and/or anxiety.
- Provide a list of current medications.
Because doctors are often on a time schedule; it may be helpful to book two appointments in advance (make sure this is covered by insurance). Come prepared to the visit and explain appointment expectations to the health care provider.